FDA and DOJ’s task force on illegal e-cigarettes cracks down on environmentally harmful disposable vapes

Disposable vapes are a big business despite the fact that most are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it is illegal to sell them. On June 10, the FDA and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a new task force to get these illegal e-cigarettes off of store shelves. This task force is a step in the right direction toward preventing the unique harms to public health and our environment from disposable vapes. 

Retailers don’t need to wait until they’re the target of this crackdown. Companies and franchisees who have previously received warning letters, such as 7-Eleven, Citgo and Chevron, should immediately stop selling all disposable vapes. State and federal lawmakers should also clarify the law by banning all disposable vapes.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s “Vape Waste” report found that Americans throw away 4.5 disposable vapes per second. While other countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, and China have banned or restricted disposable vapes, the United States has lagged behind. 

Electronics shouldn’t be made into disposable products. E-cigarettes contain batteries, plastics and chemicals that can poison soil and water, harming wildlife and ecosystems. These devices end up as litter in landfills and, increasingly, on our beaches.

We shouldn’t tolerate products as dangerous and environmentally harmful as disposable vapes. Lawmakers should expand existing bans to include all single-use vapes, which, in addition to adversely impacting public health impacts, acutely harm the environment. The FDA should also educate the public about the environmental impact of vaping and encourage responsible disposal, such as through take-back programs. The FDA should not approve any disposable vapes and retailers shouldn’t sell them.

The vaping epidemic is both a health and environmental crisis. The crackdown on illegal, disposable vapes can’t ignore—and must also tackle—the ecological harm caused by these products. 


Lucas Gutterman

Director, Designed to Last Campaign, PIRG

Lucas leads PIRG’s Designed to Last campaign, fighting against obsolescence and e-waste and winning concrete policy changes that extend electronic consumer product lifespans and hold manufacturers accountable for forcing upgrades or disposal.