On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called for federal intervention to stop the promotion of Elf Bar, a popular e-cigarette brand that appears to be aimed at children.
He raised concerns that the China-based company has been utilizing social media influencers to endorse nicotine products with flavors like apple-peach and cotton candy, which are harmful to minors.
“There’s a new e-cigarette in town. It’s hooking New York City and Long Island young people with kid-friendly flavors and Gen Z colors,” Schumer told reporters.
“It is made in China and it is in all likelihood evading [Federal Drug Administration] rules about advertising cigarettes to kids, including e-cigarettes.”
Despite being contacted via email, Elf Bar did not provide an immediate response to requests for comment. According to Schumer, the company has avoided conventional advertising methods such as TV or print ads, and instead has paid influencers to endorse their products.
The Elf Bar hashtag on TikTok alone has generated a staggering 1.6 billion views.
He called on the feds to investigate such practices.
“Depending on what the investigation might find, my message to the FDA and Justice Department is, take every action up to and including banning Elf Bar,” said the New York Democrat. “Just as we had to chase Juul out of the market of directing e-cigarette advertising and sales to kids, we have to do the same with Elf Bar.”
The FDA attempted to prohibit Juul sales in the United States last year, following pressure to cease the sale of flavored vaping products. The ban is currently being litigated.
“That left a vacuum, and this Chinese company, Elf Bar, is trying to fill that vacuum,” Schumer said.
Senator Schumer pointed out that while the sale of Juul has faced legal challenges, the use of disposable e-cigarettes among young people has risen dramatically.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high schoolers’ use of disposable e-cigarettes increased by 1,000% from 2019 to 2020, while middle school students’ usage increased by 400%.
Elf Bar is widely available at convenience stores and retailers throughout New York City and Long Island, and the company has recently promoted its products on social media through unboxing videos and Halloween-themed posts featuring individuals dressed as Elf Bar products.
“We believe that the FDA can shut this advertising down and eventually shut Elf Bar down,” Schumer said.