HELP Chair, Colleagues Want Faster FDA Action on E-Cigarettes
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and 10 Democratic colleagues in Congress released a report highlighting how e-cigarette companies are marketing and flavoring their products to appeal to young people.
A report released April 14 by 11 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives spotlights how electronic cigarettes are being marketed to appeal to youth audiences, according to the group, which includes Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, as well as Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. They want the Food and Drug Administration to move faster to regulate e-cigarettes.
The report, "Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth," describes the use of social media, sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and TV and radio advertising that reaches substantial young audiences. It includes responses from eight e-cigarette manufacturers as the lawmakers were investigating the industry.
FDA already has announced that it plans to issue a proposed rule extending its tobacco product authorities to include e-cigarettes.
Major findings of the report include:
- All surveyed e-cigarette companies appear to use various marketing practices that appeal to youths, such as social media outreach, sponsorships of and free samples provided at youth-oriented concerts and events, and radio and television advertisements played during events and programs with significant youth viewership.
- Six of the nine surveyed e-cigarette companies market e-cigarettes in flavors such as Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen, and Grape Mint.
- E-cigarette manufacturers more than doubled their 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.
"This report provides clear evidence that e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing to kids and teens using tactics that would be illegal if these were traditional cigarettes. This should not be a surprise since some of the e-cigarette makers examined are owned by large tobacco companies well-versed in marketing nicotine products to kids and teens," Harkin said. "The report shows that e-cigarette manufacturers are investing millions of dollars to create a new generation of nicotine addicts, which is shameful and must be stopped immediately. As the chairman of the Senate committee with oversight of the FDA, I urge the agency to swiftly issue deeming regulations that give the agency the authority to regulate e-cigarettes and to stop these marketing practices that are already illegal for traditional tobacco products."
"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."