FDA’s New Target… Spongebob Vapes?

On August 23rd, 2023 the FDA sent more warning letters to online retailers for selling and/or distributing unauthorized e-cigarette products packaged to look like youth-appealing characters, school supplies, toys, and drinks. 

#1 on their list? Spongebob. Yes, you read that correctly Spongebob.

While I agree that vaping products should obviously not be created in the image of childhood cartoon characters, I can’t help but blame the FDA for this product ever being on the market in the first place.

Most responsible retailers are more than willing to comply with rules and regulations to keep their products on the market and in the hands of their adult customers. At Ecig Charleston we changed our packaging to plain black and white with minimal colour to differentiate between menthol, tobacco and fruit flavors, still, we received an MDO. 

But when responsible retailers are denied authorization of these products, an illicit market emerges. 

Prohibiting legitimate manufacturers and retailers in the US has created quite a mess. And even though I frequently visit vape shops locally that carry many illicit items, I have never seen any of these items for sale. 

To confirm the suspicions about the legitimacy of these products, a few of my friends decided to dig deeper. Edward Hubert reached out to the highlighter vape company, and they confirmed that they do not sell these items in the US. 

This also seemed a little odd to people like Brian Fojtik, who replied, “I wanted to say I’ve vaped for over a decade, buy regularly online, have been involved in this space the entire time and other than tobacco control press releases, I never see these products offered, available, used. It’s all made-up theater.” 

So who is responsible for these products, and more importantly, who, if anyone, is selling them?

Maybe the FDA should take a hard look at the decisions they are making and their impact on the US market.

So far, to me, it looks a lot like this: Prohibition = illicit market = Spongebob vapes.


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Vaping can save 200 million lives and flavours play a key role in helping smokers quit. However, policymakers want to limit or ban flavours, putting our effort to end smoking-related deaths in jeopardy.

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