House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and two key subcommittee heads have sent a letter to the FDA sounding the alarm about efforts to sell e-cigarettes, particularly to young consumers.
They say the efforts mirror tactics used in the past by tobacco companies, and further state that according to the CDC, the products could “serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction.”
Joining Waxman are Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ)
They are very concerned about the fact that it is perfectly legal to advertised e-cigarettes on television.
They cited the activity of one particular manufacturer as an example, writing, “NJOY, an e-cigarette manufacturer, has advertised during the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, and on ESPN, reaching a general audience of ‘at least 10 million viewers,’ many of them children, teens, or young adults. The NJOY ads have also ‘been accepted by cable channels owned by Discovery Communications and Viacom … as well as local broadcast stations in markets like Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.’ Television ads for Blu e-cigarettes have aired nationally on Comedy Central, whose target audience is young males, including on Comedy Central’s Workaholics, a top-rated show among 18 to 24 year olds.”
They are particularly concerned about the use of cartoon imagery to promote the product, something that tobacco companies have been steered away from but which is being used now by some e-cigarette manufacturers.
They are also concerned about advertising the products in print publications and at sporting and other events.
They concluded, “We believe FDA action is essential to ensure that e-cigarette makers stop targeting the nation’s youth. We recognize that there is a debate about the value of e-cigarettes as an alternative for addicted adults. But whatever the merits for adult smokers, these addictive products should not be used by teenagers. The companies’ practices show that they are not capable of self-regulation. FDA must act now to protect children from their unscrupulous marketing campaigns.”