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Vaping company escapes FDA regulation by using synthetic nicotine

Photo by Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The FDA finalized rules on Jan. 2, 2020, that required companies who produce "unauthorized flavored e-cigarette products that appeal to kids" to cease the manufacture, distribution, and sale of all e-cigarette products apart from tobacco and menthol-flavored products within 30 days.

The regulation was a result of what the CDC and other health officials have called "an epidemic among our nation’s young people.”

Some vaping companies have been able to get around current regulations by using synthetic nicotine in their products, which is not subject to regulation at this time because it does not fall under the literal definition of an electronic nicotine deliverysystem, or ENDS, due the fact that the nicotine is created in a lab.

Puff Bar, an e-vaping device company that has been able to get around the FDA's regulation of ENDS, discussed the nature of their product and the company's battle with the FDA in an interview with "The CBS Morning Show" Tuesday.

Puff Bar CEOs Nick Minas and Patrick Beltran addressed criticisms that the company is attempting to get around regulation. "People always say you guys are trying to sidestep or side skirt kind of laws, and we're not. If there's a law that would order us off the market tomorrow, we would call our products off the market tomorrow," Beltran told CBS.

"For us, offering consumers the best choice on the market isn’t just a mission — it’s a requirement. As America’s leading innovator in vape devices, we pride ourselves in setting the bar. And we’re committed to raising that bar, one puff at a time," the company website says.

How Puff Bar has avoided FDA regulation

The 27-year-old CEOs told CBS that the company was not at odds with the FDA or current legislation despite receiving a warning letter from the FDA last year alleging that the company was "illegally marketing disposable e-cigarettes." Beltran told CBS in the interview Puff Bar uses tobacco-free nicotine that Minas told interviewers that synthetic nicotine has "less byproduct than tobacco-derived nicotine." Minas and Beltran confirmed that theirs was only intended to provide former cigarette smokers with an alternative and was not marketed to kids.

At this time, synthetic nicotine is not regulated by the FDA. However, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) sent a letter to Puff Bar announcing his organization of a congressional subcommittee that intends to write legislation that would regulate synthetic nicotine products.

"Puff Bar’s meteoric rise in popularity among kids resulted in $156 million in sales in 2020 alone. Puff Bar should not be allowed to continue harming children due to FDA’s failure to regulate synthetic nicotine, and I intend to put an end to your predatory practices," Krishnamoorthi said in a press release.

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