E-cigarette products that look like sweets are being marketed at children, experts warn.
They have raised concerns about refillable ‘e-liquids’ that are sold separately from the inhaler devices.
One brand of liquid, Candy King Sour, looks similar to packs of Trolli or Sour Patch gummy sweets. Another, Juice Box, looks like a carton of apple juice, and V’nilla Cookies and Milk like a pack of biscuits.
The American drugs watchdog wrote to manufacturers last week warning them against deliberately ‘mislabelling’ their products.
Scott Gottlieb, a commissioner at the US Food and Drug Administration, said: ‘No child should be using any tobacco product and no tobacco products should be marketed in a way that endangers kids, especially by using imagery that misleads them into thinking the products are things they’d eat or drink.
‘Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t putting children in harm’s way or enticing youth use and we’ll continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion.’
All of the products are available in the UK, either via the internet or from vaping stores.
The Department of Health said it would be ‘closely monitoring’ the situation but has not issued warning letters to manufacturers.
E-cigarettes are being promoted by UK health officials as a safer alternative to tobacco. Yet experts say too little is known about their long-term effects and studies have linked them to cancer, heart disease and lung conditions.
They are also worried that the devices are being used by youngsters as a stepping stone to ordinary tobacco cigarettes. The battery-powered devices convert a liquid containing nicotine into vapour. The liquids are sold separately and come in a huge variety of flavours.
Research by King’s College London in March found children who had tried e-cigarettes, or vaped, were 12 times as likely to have also smoked tobacco.
By law, the devices and fillers can only be bought by over-18s. But many are purchased online and customers only have to tick a box saying they are 18 or over without proof.
The availability of the confectionary-like brands in the UK was uncovered by the Pharmaceutical Journal.
One, Breakfast Whip’d, looks similar to a can of Anchor squirty cream. Another, Daze Pink Sticks, which can only be bought from US websites, is almost identical to Mikado or Pocky biscuit sticks.
George Butterworth, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Vaping in young people in the UK remains very low but industry marketing should be closely monitored to ensure they are not targeting this age group.’
The Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘It is against the law to sell e-cigarettes to under-18s and we take advertising or promotion of these products extremely seriously – if there is any evidence of this, local trading standards have enforcement powers to take action.’
© Daily Mail