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Schumer calls for FDA investigation into Elf Bar nicotine vapes

A discarded Elf Bar vape
Jason Smith
A discarded Elf Bar vape

There’s a new e-cigarette hooking teens in central New York and across the country, brightly colored canisters made in China, called Elf Bars, are getting kids addicted to nicotine.

Harper Ells, a junior at Fulton High School, said it’s obvious Elf Bars are in use when she finds a group of kids huddled in a bathroom between classes.

"It’s kind of cloudy, but the smell is the biggest thing," Ells said. "The vapes have a fruity smell, but it’s a distinct smell, you know it's definitely the vape vapor."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds an Elf Bar at a press conference held at Fulton Junior High School.
Ellen Abbott
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds an Elf Bar at a press conference held at Fulton Junior High School.

Those fruity flavors are part of the way Elf Bars target kids, with flavors like blue razz lemon, watermelon bubble gum and tropical rainbow blast, all wrapped up in brightly colored disposable canisters. Fulton City School District Superintendent Brian Pulvino said Elf Bars made up more than 60 of the 99 cases of vaping this year alone. He said vaping really picked up after COVID and is appealing to younger and younger kids.

"I’ve had as young as a 10-year-old I’ve worked with — that would be the youngest," Pulvino said. "Predominantly in our junior high and our senior high is where we’re seeing it."
Local school districts have been meeting about the disposable e-cigarette use and say part of the dramatic increase is due to how easily Elf Bars can be obtained and concealed.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wants to snuff out the latest disposable e-cigarette trend among teens. Schumer said the made-in-China products are likely evading FDA advertising rules by using social media to covertly sell the products.

"As of today, '#ElfBar' has 1.7 billion views on TikTok alone," Schumer said. "It was only 1.6 billion when I checked on March 19. Now, it’s gained over 100 million new viewers in a few weeks, showing how this is cascading.”

Schumer is asking the FDA to investigate Elf Bar’s activities and shut them down. Schumer said if unchecked, this highly-addictive product could be worse than another e-cigarette trend called Juul because it’s manufactured in China which has lower product safety and consumer protection standards.

"I’m calling on the FDA to investigate Elf Bar, to investigate their practices, and should they find they’re violating the law, which I think they will, shut ‘em down," Schumer said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.