China shutters company faking Juul vape products

A major  manufacturer and international distributor of counterfeit Juul Labs vaping devices and pods has been shut down in China, says the company.

Juul says its brand protection team identified Shenzhen Kang Erqiang Electronic Technology Co as a major player in the illicit global trade of counterfeits of its products after a lengthy investigation conducted in 2019.

After sharing the intelligence with Chinese law enforcement, raid were carried out at the company, resulting in the seizure of 14,600 units of counterfeit Juul products, including pods, devices, and packaging.

A computer was also seized, which provided authorities with critical information regarding when the illicit operation was launched as well as a rough estimate of counterfeit sales – some $324,000 over a 16-month period starting sometime in 2018.

The burgeoning popularity of nicotine vaporisers as a healthier alternative to tobacco products like cigarettes is driving counterfeiters to cash in on that success by producing almost identical copies of the products, and claiming they are the genuine article.

However, counterfeit and unapproved vaping products pose a very serious health concern to users as they are likely manufactured in unregulated facilities with unverified ingredients.

While the $324,000 figures was used by the  Chinese authorities during prosecution, actual sales could be far more significant, according to Juul.

Prosecutors also secured a conviction of the factory operator, who confessed to his involvement and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison, along with a fine of just under $163,500.

“These black-market products present additional health and safety risks to adult consumers given that they often are produced in unsanitary conditions without manufacturing and quality controls and lack ingredient testing and product characterisation,” said Juul in a statement.

“They also may contain harmful chemicals not present in other, authentic products,” added the company, and undermine efforts to curb underage vaping because they tend to be available through channels like social media, without age verification.

There are thought to be high volumes of illegal vapes in the illicit supply chain, which is particularly concerning given the recent outbreak of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury (EVALI) in the US.

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