E-cigarette companies strategize different marketing tactics that will help their nicotine-filled products appeal to the youth. One marketing tactic that is commonly executed is the use of appealing flavors associated with their products. Some e-cigarette companies name their flavored vapes after delicious treats, such as Apple Crumb and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, to make them more appealing to younger crowds.
Statistics prove that the marketing strategy is working. Middle and high school students who used e-cigarettes mentioned that the wide variety of flavors was one of the common reasons that they used e-cigarettes. These questionable marketing strategies influenced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce a mandatory order on three e-cigarette companies.
Last month, the FDA ordered three e-cigarette companies to stop selling most of their flavored products on the market. The agency’s regulators declared that the companies failed to supply sufficient evidence of how their products benefit adult smokers.
Under the agency’s order, e-cigarette companies must choose between pulling 55,000 flavored products from the market or suffer additional penalties from the agency. The agency based their decision on the potential or actual impact that the flavored products could have on e-cigarette use in the younger populations.
Public health organizations expressed their support for the agency’s mandatory order. The American Lung Association, in particular, commended the agency on its Twitter page. Vaping advocates expressed criticism and disappointment in the agency’s decision. Greg Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, described the agency’s decision to punish the smaller e-cigarette companies as going after “low hanging fruit.” The agency’s decision sparked concern in vaping advocates about the future of the industry moving forward.
How have marketing tactics contributed to the youth vaping epidemic?
E-cigarette companies market their products to the youth in various ways. The companies create ads surrounded by themes that appeal to the youth, such as rebellion and independence. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ten million high school students and eight million middle school students reported that they had been exposed to e-cigarette ads in the year 2014.
Companies advertise their products both online and offline in spaces that cater to the youth. Eight million high school students witnessed e-cigarette ads in retail stores, and six million witnessed e-cigarette ads on social media.
What are some of the consequences if the FDA decides to ban e-cigarettes?
Harm reduction advocates propose that the illegal ban of e-cigarettes could lead to an era similar to the Prohibition years for e-cigarette users. Brooke Feldman, the co-founder of the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network, claims that these vaping products may be sold illegally and unregulated in the market. Feldman recommends limiting the youth’s access to the products and teaching the youth about the risks associated with the products instead.
The FDA rejected marketing applications for millions of vaping products based on the same criteria as the mandatory order. E-cigarette companies failed to provide substantial evidence that their products were beneficial for adult smokers. However, the agency delayed its decision on whether products from major e-cigarette companies like Juul and Vuse must be banned. The agency declared that it would need additional time to review the remaining applications.
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