SCHUMER REVEALS: A NEW #1 MADE-IN-CHINA E-CIG—'ELF BAR’—IS HOOKING STUDENTS IN FULTON, SYRCAUSE & ACROSS CENTRAL NY WITH KID-FRIENDLY FLAVORS & “GEN Z COLORS,” LIKELY EVADING FDA ADVERTISING RULES BY USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO COVERTLY SELL THE PRODUCT; SENATOR DEMANDS FDA INVESTIGATE & TAKE ON ELF BAR’S ATTEMPTS TO FILL VOID WHEN JUUL EXITED
Schumer Says 60+ Elf Bars Have Been Confiscated In Fulton Schools This Year Alone - With Hundreds More Across Syracuse and Central NY Schools - Filling The Addictive and Damaging Void Of Juul For Kids With A Potentially More Dangerous Knock Off Made in China
Senator Has A Strong History Of Fighting E-Cig Marketing Targeting and Addicting Kids; But Elf Bar Could Be Even Worse, Skirting U.S. Law With Inappropriate Youth-Targeted Advertising On Socials Like Insta, TikTok—Not TV Or Papers; Schumer Demands New Fed Action To Stop Cloud Of Teen-Targeting Vapes Spreading Across CNY
Schumer: FDA Must Clear The Smoke Of Addictive and Damaging Elf Bar & Investigate Before It Becomes ‘Juul 2.0’
Standing at Fulton Junior High School, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed that a new #1 and disposable made-in-China e-cig, the “Elf Bar,” is spreading in Fulton schools and across Central NY and will likely continue to rise if federal action is not taken.
Schumer said, “If left unchecked, this highly-addictive and health-damaging Elf Bar, that is targeting teens and kids, could become the next Juul, but even worse — because of its shoddy manufacturing and its commonly mislabeled nicotine levels.” Schumer pointed out that the product is manufactured in China, which has lower product safety and consumer protection standards.
Schumer said the main reason for this worry: questionable advertising and promotion on social media. Schumer says that Elf Bar is littering TikTok, Instagram and other social platforms with advertising that is likely evading FDA rules. So Schumer is calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the sale of addictive and damaging Elf Bars and be prepared to ban them to protect our kids.
“While the FDA has done much to snuff out the worst kinds of e-cigs that can hook kids, like Juul, there are clear workarounds and illegal methods being used by unscrupulous actors like Elf Bar,” said Senator Schumer. “We are already seeing these damaging and highly addictive new form of e-cigs target our teens and kids and go from store shelves to schools across Central NY. Elf Bar is littering TikTok and Instagram, using influencers they pay directly, to push the e-cig to kids and teens. This kind of ploy seeks to evade FDA advertising rules, and we have to get ahead of it to protect our kids and teens from these damaging and addictive products.”
According to the Fulton Central School District, Elf Bars made up more than 60 of the 88 cases of vaping by children recorded this school year alone. Fulton schools have already confiscated more e-cigs in the first three months of 2023 than they did during the same time period a year ago, and teachers and administrators expect that trend to continue to grow. In Oswego County, almost 15% of all students report using an e-cigarette at least once a month.
“Too many of our students are impacted by nicotine vaping addiction. It is disruptive to their learning and likely to adversely affect their health into adulthood. It also has a negative impact on our school culture,” said Fulton City School District Superintendent Brian Pulvino. “We appreciate Majority Leader Schumer’s efforts to keep these devices from reaching our children, including the Elfbar devices, which have become more prevalent in our schools in recent months.”
Schumer said CNY teachers are confiscating these Elf Bars nearly every day. In nearby Onondaga County, school officials have recorded hundreds of nicotine vaping incidents, including many incidents involving Elf Bars at all five of the Syracuse City School District’s high schools.
“Superintendents around the area have seen an increase in the amount of vaping that is taking place in the last few years. When meeting with student groups, students have told us that vaping is increasing amongst their friends because it is so easy to conceal and obtain,” said North Syracuse Central School District Superintendent Daniel D. Bowles. “Students want interventions in place to stop the epidemic of vaping because their friends admit that they are not able to stop once they get started vaping. On behalf of the North Syracuse Central School District, I would like to thank Senator Schumer for coming to our area today to raise awareness and urge action against the scourge of nicotine vaping devices, such as the Elf Bar, disrupting our students lives and learning.”
In response to this escalating regional epidemic, Schumer said the FDA must immediately investigate Elf Bar, its advertising model and the ‘workaround’ disposable e-cigs have found to evade federal rules and stay on shelves. Schumer said he has given the FDA the tools it needs to take on Elf Bar over the years, including last year, passing a law enabling the FDA to regulate synthetic nicotine. He said that the FDA must use its full authority to investigate and take action against Elf Bar and be prepared to ban it from the market. Schumer also detailed other Central NY data as he made his case for immediate action on Elf Bar and its health dangers to kids.
“Across TV and newspapers, Elf Bar doesn’t seem to exist, but ask any young person or teen and they’ll tell you: it’s the hottest thing and all over their social media newsfeeds. On TikTok alone, the Elf Bar has 1.7
6 billion views, and that is advertising. The FDA must scour the social sites to hold Elf Bar to account as we push every enforcement action available, from FDA to DOJ,” Schumer added.
According to public data, disposable e-cig use has skyrocketed, increasing about 1,000% (from 2.4% to 26.5%) among high school e-cigarette users and more than 400% (from 3% to 15.2%) among middle school e-cigarette users during 2019-2020. From 2020 to 2021, the disposable e-cigarette market share grew from a quarter of the total e-cigarette market to more than one-third (from 25% to 37.5%), as well.
“The bottom-line here is that the FDA must clear the smoke of Elf Bar & investigate before it becomes ‘Juul 2.0 for our kids in Central NY,’ Schumer added.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the FDA appears below.
Dear Commissioner Califf:
I write to ask that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) use its full resources and authorities to investigate, take actions against and be prepared to pull from the market the disposable e-cigarette brand, Elf Bar. The youth vaping epidemic remains at concerning levels and I am worried that with the rise of companies like Elf Bar, who offer cheap, colorful, and sweet disposable e-cigarettes, that we could see this crisis reach new heights. The FDA has a proud history of working to support the nation’s public health and I commend your agency’s recent actions to take on the youth e-cigarette crisis, but now is not a time to rest on one’s laurels.
In particular, there are two particularly concerning issues regarding Elf Bar. First, Elf Bar’s social media marketing tactics appear to be targeted at underage audiences and they must be investigated. Second, the company’s manufacturing supply chain could be putting consumers at risk of serious health problems.
As you know, synthetic nicotine is created in a laboratory rather than derived from tobacco leaves. Products like Elf Bar’s disposable vapes, are being advertised as “tobacco-free alternatives” and labeled as synthetic nicotine. However, these alternative shares one glaring similarity: synthetic nicotine still contains nicotine. Nicotine is a severe concern as it is a highly addictive substance that research suggests is as addictive as illicit drugs including heroin or cocaine. Of further issue, nicotine is shown to impact youth brain development, putting at risk a young person’s memory, attention levels, and ability to learn.
Featuring flavors like rainbow candy, apple beach, blue razz ice, cotton candy, and vanilla ice cream wrapped up in colorful, disposable packaging, it is no surprise that Elf Bar has fast become popular among young people. Similarly enticing, Elf Bar products are ubiquitous on social media apps through posts marked as ads as well as prominently displayed in the content of social media influencers. Popular influencers can be seen glamorizing their Elf Bar e-cigarettes on Instagram and TikTok, two apps primarily used by America’s impressionable youth. Considering the impact on our youth and teens, the FDA must immediately investigate Elf Bar’s use of paid social media advertising and their relationships with social media influencers who market their synthetic nicotine products to minors.
In addition to an investigation on Elf Bar’s social media marketing tactics, I call on the FDA to look into Elf Bar’s manufacturing supply chain. There have been numerous reports detailing counterfeit Elf Products that have hit the market, which have caused consumer harm.
FDA regulators cannot rely on modern day tobacco barons to regulate themselves. Given the major concerns around Elf Bar’s overall effect on children, its marketing tactics and its supply chain issues, FDA must use all its authority to investigate and act against Elf Bar.
Considering the risks at play and the health of our Nation’s children, I ask that the FDA prioritize this issue immediately. The nation is counting on your leadership to protect them from harmful products and deceitful marketing tactics.