Statement: Congress aims to give FDA authority to regulate synthetic nicotine products

Media Contacts
Matt Wellington

Former Director, Public Health Campaigns, PIRG

Action would close gaping loophole in efforts to reduce youth vaping


WASHINGTON – The House of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on a sweeping omnibus appropriations bill. If it passes in its current form, then the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would gain the authority to regulate synthetic nicotine products in the same way that they regulate tobacco products. With such authority, the FDA could force companies to remove synthetic nicotine products from the market unless they’re approved as a product that’s appropriate for the protection of public health.  

In recent months, the vaping manufacturer Puff Bar switched the formula in its e-cigarettes to synthetic nicotine, rather than tobacco-derived nicotine. That move enabled the company to skirt FDA regulations aimed at taking kid-friendly e-cigarettes off the market. More than a quarter of middle and high school e-cigarette users cited Puff Bar as their usual brand, according to the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Other e-cigarette companies are starting to follow Puff Bar’s lead.

In response, PIRG’s Public Health Campaigns Director Matthew Wellington released the following statement:

“Flavored e-cigarettes, whether the nicotine is synthetic or derived from tobacco, are designed to attract and hook kids. Congress should move swiftly to grant the FDA authority to regulate synthetic nicotine products as tobacco products, otherwise they’ll leave a gaping hole that millions of kids will continue to fall through, despite our efforts to reduce youth e-cigarette use.

“Congress should close this loophole, but we also need a more comprehensive effort by the FDA to prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes, rather than the piecemeal approach the agency is currently taking.”