July 22, 2024

EPPD Ramping up Enforcement with ENDS Compliance Checks, Confiscates Over $22,000 in Prohibited Flavored Devices

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East Providence, RI – July 2, 2024 – The East Providence Prevention Coalition (EPPC) and the East Providence Police Department (EPPD) recently conducted compliance checks for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) retailers. During these checks, one retailer was found in violation, selling ENDS products, commonly referred to as vapes or e-cigarettes, to a minor and possessing over $22,000 worth of prohibited flavored devices, including the popular Elf Bars, which were subsequently confiscated.

This compliance check and confiscation are in addition to previous compliance checks during which the EPPD seized and destroyed over $13,000 worth of illegal ENDS products.

The EPPD is intensifying its enforcement efforts to ensure illegal products are not sold to minors. In Rhode Island, retailers must hold an ENDS license to sell such devices. Furthermore, they are required to sign an attestation acknowledging that flavored ENDS products are prohibited in the state and agreeing not to sell them.

Governor McKee recently signed legislation that permanently codifies the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) ruling from 2020, reinforcing the ban on flavored ENDS products. This law is a critical step in protecting the health of youth and limiting their access to these appealing products.

The public health threat posed by the youth vaping epidemic cannot be overstated. The rise in e-cigarette use among teens has led to significant health concerns, including nicotine addiction, respiratory issues, and potential long-term impacts on brain development. Flavored ENDS products, such as Elf Bars, are particularly appealing to young people due to their sweet and fruity flavors, making them a gateway to nicotine dependence.

Additionally, it is important to note that these flavored devices are not only illegal in Rhode Island but also not authorized for sale in the United States by the FDA. The FDA has only authorized 23 e-cigarette products for sale in the U.S., and all of these are tobacco-flavored. In December 2023, the FDA seized 1.4 million illegal e-cigarettes valued at over $18 million, underscoring the widespread issue of unlawful ENDS products.

Sergeant Kelvin Cabrera of the EPPD stated, "The East Providence Police Department is honored to team up with the EPPC to conduct compliance checks. This type of proactive enforcement is crucial in order to ensure that businesses within East Providence are compliant with the regulations, which in turn ensures the health and safety of our youth. Our goal is to eliminate the availability of these harmful products in our community.”

“In my opinion, we’re seeing a blatant disregard for the regulations,” said Madeline Marlow, the Coordinator for the EPPC. “This is directly impacting the health and well-being of our youth and community. We deeply appreciate the EPPD’s enforcement actions taken to protect our youth and reduce access to these illegal and harmful products.”
Marlow also stated, “We’re finding that the value of the flavored tobacco products being confiscated is significantly higher than the fines.”

The EPPD warns that any prohibited products will be confiscated in future inspections. This ongoing effort aims to reduce the availability of flavored ENDS devices that are particularly attractive to teens, thereby addressing the public health concern.

For more information, please contact:
Bethanie Rado
Youth & Media Relations Coordinator
East Providence Prevention Coalition
brado@eastprovidenceri.gov 

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About East Providence Prevention Coalition
The East Providence Prevention Coalition is dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles in the community by reducing substance misuse, promoting wellness, and fostering a community of healthy lifestyle choices.

About East Providence Police Department
The mission of the East Providence Police Department is to protect life and property and preserve the peace while creating and maintaining a proactive partnership with our residential and business community in.

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