LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is trying to pull e-liquid that looks like kid-friendly snacks off store shelves.
The agency issued a press release Tuesday, stating they issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for selling e-liquids used in e-cigarettes with labeling and/or advertising that cause them to resemble kid-friendly food products, such as juice boxes, candy or cookies, some of them with cartoon-like imagery.
Such e-liquids are widely available at Southwest Florida Vape shops, and online. 4 In Your Corner purchased e-liquid resembling 'Starburst' candy, and asked kids at a Cape Coral park if they could identify which was the was candy, and which was e-liquid. One child pointed at the e-liquid without hesitation. "I think they're both candy!" said another child.
Mother Lisa Altieri was alarmed after her child identified e-liquid as candy. "It is upsetting to me. What if one of her friends has it at their house? She's not going to know the difference."
The FDA states the following on their website:
"Young children can be severely hurt by drinking (also called “ingesting”) e-liquids. Harmful effects can include seizure, coma, respiratory arrest (which happens when a person stops breathing), and death from cardiac arrest (which happens when the heart stops pumping blood.)"
Chris Feinberg owns Cloud 9 Vapor Company, and told 4 In Your Corner he agreed with the FDA's warnings to an extent. "It does pique the interest of children much more than a bland label would, or something that's just a little more responsible. I don't think it's good for our industry," he said.
Feinberg said there are plenty of other e-liquids, which do not market their products this way, and have similar flavoring. "There's no reason to pick up that bottle and think there's anything in there besides e-liquid," he said, holding a more subtle alternative.
He has chosen to not sell products children may be attracted to at his store.
Jarrod Regner, at Vaporango Vape Shop in Cape Coral, tells 4 In Your Corner their shop does not sell those products either, but he doesn't completely condemn use of them. "Get different bottles for your kids that they aren't able to get into. Most vape stores sell them for like two dollars, and it's an easy way to get around it," he said.