WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Democratic legislators have released a report that backs up their efforts to set regulations on electronic cigarette marketing.
The report, Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth, was released today by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.); Tom Harkin (D-Iowa); John D. Rockefeller (D-W. Va.); Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); as well as U.S. Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.); and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.).
The major findings of the report include:
- All surveyed e-cigarette companies appear to use various marketing practices that appeal to youth, such as social media outreach, sponsorships and free samples provided at youth-oriented events, and radio and TV advertisements played during events and programs with significant youth viewership.
- Six of the nine surveyed e-cigarette companies market e-cigarettes in flavors, like Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen and Grape Mint.
- E-cigarette manufacturers have significantly increased marketing spending, more than doubling marketing expenditures between 2012 and 2013. Last year, six leading e-cigarette companies spent a total of $59.3 million on marketing.
- Six of the eight respondents support some form of regulation, including restrictions on the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to children and teens.
"Six months ago, with growing public health concerns regarding liquid nicotine and growing e-cigarette use among young people, my colleagues and I reached out to nine leading e-cigarette companies with questions about their distribution and marketing to children and teenagers," Durbin said. "The answers came back: from candy flavors to rock concert sponsorships, every single company surveyed in this report has employed a marketing strategy that appears to target youth. For years, federal regulations prohibiting tobacco companies from targeting young people have helped to protect a new generation of smokers from getting hooked on nicotine. Now, we must close this new gateway to addiction to protect our children."
The report was compiled using responses from eight e-cigarette manufacturers received by the lawmakers from their investigation into the industry and other publicly available information.
"E-cigarette makers are starting to prey on kids, just like the big tobacco companies," Waxman said. "With over a million youth now using e-cigarettes, [the Food and Drug Administration] needs to act without further delay to stop the companies from marketing their addictive products to children."
In light of the findings, the group of lawmakers recommended:
- E-cigarette companies should take immediate action to prevent the sale of their products to children and teenagers. This should include refraining from the use of TV and radio advertisements.
- E-cigarette companies should terminate marketing campaigns that target children and teens, including product promotion through social media and event sponsorships intended for youth audiences.
- The FDA should promptly issue deeming regulations asserting the agency's authority to regulate e-cigarettes.
- The FDA should issue regulations to prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to children and teenagers by requiring age verification and face-to-face sales, and by limiting purchases through vending machines.
- The FDA should implement restrictions on e-cigarette companies marketing to children and teens, and, where appropriate, should work with the Federal Trade Commission to enforce such restrictions.
- The FDA should prohibit misleading product claims on e-cigarettes, and should require clear, uniform labels to inform consumers of the health risks associated with their use.
To read the full report, click here.