The FDA’s attempts to keep a thumb firmly down on electronic cigarettes were hurt by Congress in 2009, and by a federal court just recently. At least one observer believes that quiet attempts by marketers to build momentum for their sale may soon become a good bit noisier.
E cigarettes, as they are known, deliver the nicotine punch smokers crave while eliminating the vast bulk of the harmful elements contained in tobacco smoke. They also do not produce the kind of second-hand smoke that has gotten tobacco products increasing banned in public buildings.
According to Marketwire, Congress gave FDA the authority to regulate but not ban them in 2009, and the courts have just taken away FDA’s ability to block importation of the products.
Analysts note that e cigarettes are mostly sold online, but are beginning to show up in tobacco stores. On the marketing end, they are starting to get testimonials from celebrities, and one observer believes that standard broadcast advertising campaigns may be in store.
RBR-TVBR observation: The battle over e cigarettes likely has a long way to go, since the battle over actual tobacco products has such a strong and emotional history. We would expect that if marketing really does ratchet significantly up, a good chunk of the Inside-the-Beltway crowd will be up in arms, and further, stations running e cigarette ads may face strong local protest. Our advice on this: Watch what happens and proceed with caution.