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How A Rebrand Helped This Chinese Vape Company Evade US Regulators

The FDA might be cracking down, but there are some serious shortcomings. How A Rebrand Helped This Chinese Vape Company Evade US Regulators Shutterstock

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“What’s in a name?” It’s a question Juliet asked in the timeless Shakespeare tragedy and countless others have pondered in the centuries since.

Well, one Chinese e-cigarette company has clearly figured out that a name means a lot — especially when you’re trying to avoid having your product confiscated by U.S. authorities.

Illegal vapes

American regulators have cracked down on various types of vaping products in recent years, including the fruit-flavored devices marketed by the Chinese company known in the States as Elf Bar.

But when the Food and Drug Administration tasked customs officials with confiscating these products upon arrival, the company wasn’t willing to just chalk it up as a loss. Instead, it took the simple, but ultimately pretty effective, step of just changing its name.

Elf Bar became known as EBCreate and the manufacturers listed on its packaging also received a new name to avoid being linked to the names on the FDA’s off-limits list.

Surging sales

While Elf Bar’s tactics might seem brazen, this is hardly the only e-cigarette company that has tried to get over on the FDA (and succeeded).

That’s why the Public Health Law Center is pressuring the FDA to do a better job in its role as a regulating force in the industry. Specifically, the group advises the implementation of unique ID codes on any product that falls under the agency’s purview.

In just the few years since 2020, estimates indicate that the number of individual e-cig brands available on U.S. shelves has tripled, and most of them originate in China. This makes the FDA’s job much harder, but the agency’s tobacco director said that there is “a variety of tools at our disposal to take action” against companies like Elf Bar that try to pull a fast one.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee October 25th, 2023
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