Just as cigarette companies once targeted young smokers, makers of electronic cigarettes — including some Big Tobacco companies — are running giveaways and marketing campaigns aimed squarely at youth, Congressional investigators say.
The New York Times reported April 15 that the findings from Democrats in Congress were released ahead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement of proposed rulemaking on e-cigarettes, which would include a ban on sales to people under age 18.
A spokesman for the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association said the industry encourages “responsible marketing directed to those over the age of 18,” and “does not support, and our industry does not use, youth-oriented product marketing.”
Lorillard, a company whose business includes both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, was the most active in e-cigarette giveaways and also sponsored the Freedom Project, a national music tour under the banner of its Blu brand of e-cigarettes. Lorillard, too, denied marketing to underage youth.
“We fought for decades to set strict rules for marketing of traditional cigarettes,” said Sen. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). “E-cigarette manufacturers don’t have to play by the same rules. They are free to sponsor youth-oriented events and make flavors that appeal to kids, and that’s exactly what’s happening.”
(Photo © Fighting for Our Health via Flickr)