US Fighting to Ban E-Cig Marketing to Children

ImageIn 2013, the largest e-cigarette producers pumped a total $60 million dollars into their advertising and marketing budgets. That’s an increase of more than 100% since 2012, and has the US government concerned about the growing effect on an underage audience.

Because the e-cig industry is “unregulated,” advertisements have made their way to television and radio where children are regularly exposed. This breaks a “four-decade federal ban (that) has prohibited cigarette ads.”

Senator Richard Durbin (IL) and House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman (CA) are concerned about the “candy-flavored” cigarette substitutes becoming an addiction and serious health concern for young kids.

ImageSaid Sen. Durbin:

It (e-cigarettes) is growing in popularity among children and sadly poses serious public health threats… The report…makes clear that e-cigarette companies and the tobacco companies that own some of them have a determined effort to market their product, to pass out samples and to lure children into this nicotine addiction.

As long as e-cigs are not regulated by the FDA, producers will continue to promote them as a safer alternative to cigarettes. Twitter bots are being used to pump messages (promoted, usually) into the Twittersphere on onto your feed, along with millions of underage users.

Tobacco company and e-cigarette producer, Altria says that it supports: 

…appropriate marketing regulations which allow e-vapor companies to communicate to adult vapors, respect adult consumer choice, while at the same time reducing exposure of e-vapor marketing activities to unintended audiences.

However until the FDA imposes their regulations, the marketing behavior of these e-cig companies is telling otherwise. 



E-Cig Marketing Budgets Growing by More than 100% Year over Year, from AdAge (original article)

Ban on E-Cig Sales, Marketing to Children Pushed by Durbin, Waxman, from Roll Call


9 thoughts on “US Fighting to Ban E-Cig Marketing to Children

  1. The tobacco industry has always tried to market to younger generations, but now they are truly succeeding. E-cigarettes are incredibly popular now and will continue to be. The FDA needs to come in and do something about this unethical marketing. If they don’t more and more kids will be exposed to the ads. There are so many other issues with the advertisements kids see today, why make it worse by targeting them with e-cigarettes?

    • I agree that the FDA should be treating e-cigarettes the same as regular tobacco products. E-cigs may be “safer” and whatnot, but they still contain nicotine, which is just as harmful and addictive as “real” nicotine, especially for pregnant women and children. It probably doesn’t help that e-cigarettes come in a wide variety of flavors, all of which appeal to underage users. What really surprised me though, is that Twitter and other social networks allow these e-cig companies to promote their posts, pretty much guaranteeing that young audiences will be exposed to the promotion.

  2. Tobacco is always aimed towards those who are easily influenced aka the younger generation. Tobacco companies take that as an advantage to get more business for this addicting habit. I think that is why the CDC are coming out with more and more commercials of people telling their smoking stories and how it has effected them. It is the CDC’s way of scaring them since the tobacco company isn’t.

    • That’s a good point. As e-cig marketing has become more popular and successful I have noticed an increase in the number of anti-smoking ads. They’re extreme to the point where you squirm and remember the images, and I think are an effective tool to combat the recent re-release of tobacco marketing.

  3. I think that it would make sense that they would market towards kids. As many other people have said before, tobacco has always had a big push towards the younger market. The other advantage that e-cigs get is the fact that their is really no smell, waste, or other obvious factors that show a person smokes in comparison to to cigarettes. This is to say, it is a whole lot easier to hide that you smoke if their is no telling signs which makes them especially desirable to a younger generation.

  4. This is a dilemma. On the one hand, the better marketing the e-cigs have the more potential they have to convert smokers to a “healthy” alternative which is great, but at the expense of this marketing seeping to children. However, regulating marketing of the e-cigs could be better for children, but not as effective in converting it’s target. Perhaps, advertising on social media that has an age appropriate demographic would be fine?

    • Reaching an age appropriate audience is going to become a legal issue as e-cig marketing develops. The restrictions that were placed on tobacco cigarettes didn’t necessarily make them disappear (kids are still very subject to sneaky marketing tactics), but it did make it apparent to users and families the health repercussions. I anticipate e-cig marketing having similar restrictions imposed and we’ll have to see what kind of impact that has on the industry boom.

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