Puff Bar has become the go-to smoke for teens, thanks to a loophole that is just about to close. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already snuffed out most flavored e-cigarettes and it is now closing in on Puff Bar which uses a non-tobacco source of nicotine.
The FDA has regulated tobacco products and quit-smoking devices for quite some time but since Snuff Bar doesn’t use tobacco to generate the nicotine in its fruity vaporizers, it has been beyond the FDA’s jurisdiction.
The agency ordered Puff Bar to stop selling its products in 2020 but the company responded by switching to a non-tobacco source, and now it has become the most popular e-cigarette brand among middle- and high-school students, according to a federal survey.
“These companies like Puff Bar and others are deliberately driving their trucks of poison through this huge loophole,” said Meredith Berkman, a founder of Parents Against Vaping E-Cigs in a New York Times report. “We think we need to regulate these products.”
Congress has already passed a bill closing the loophole and President Biden is expected to sign it. After he does that, the company will have 60 days to submit its products for review by the FDA. Puff Bar executives have previously said that they would abide by any new law or regulation.
“We’ll never break the law,” Co-CEO Patrick Beltran told The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper reported.
Sweet flavors banned
E-cigs initially were popular with adults who wanted to quit smoking. Then manufacturers discovered they could sweeten them up – like bubble gum – and make them popular with teens.
Sales of e-cigs to teens took off, to the dismay of public health officials who warned that forming a nicotine habit in the teen years is likely to be a hard habit to break. So Congress and the FDA banned sweet flavors and e-cigs are now available only in tobacco and menthol flavors.
Enter Puff Bar and a few other manufacturers who switched to synthetic nicotine, which isn’t harmful itself but can lead to nicotine addiction.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) calls Puff Bar and other companies using synthetic nicotine “bad actors” who cleverly skirted the law.
“That ends with passage of this bill, which will close this loophole and clarify F.D.A.’s authority to regulate all tobacco products, including those containing synthetic nicotine,” Mr. Pallone said in a statement after a Congressional hearing in March.