The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is demanding that four tobacco companies stop selling 44 different flavors of vaping liquid and hookah products that the agency said are being sold illegally.
The actions come as the agency is trying to crack down on the youth epidemic of e-cigarette use.
The agency on Thursday said it has issued warning letters to Mighty Vapors LLC, Liquid Labs USA LLC, V8P Juice International LLC and Hookah Imports Inc. and has sought their response within 15 days.
Failure to correct the violations may result in further action, such as seizure or injunction, the agency said.
The FDA said the companies have been selling products that were introduced to the market after the effective date of a rule that gave the agency the authority to regulate all tobacco products. Under the rule, any product introduced after that date must receive FDA authorization before being marketed.
The agency gained the authority to regulate all tobacco products in 2016, but when the administration changed in 2017, the FDA decided to delay enforcing the laws for vaping products until 2022. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb moved the deadline up a year to 2021 before stepping down earlier this year.
As a result, e-cigarettes have largely existed in a regulatory gray area, though a federal judge last month ordered the FDA to impose a 10-month deadline on e-cigarette companies to submit their products for regulatory approval.
“Today’s actions make clear that we will continue to keep a close watch on whether companies are breaking the law and will take swift steps when violations are found,” acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement. “The marketing of illegal tobacco products is particularly concerning given the epidemic of youth vaping that we’re facing.”