E-cigarette companies are using celebrities in ads and flavorings in their products to appeal to new customers, USA Today reports. Unlike regular cigarettes, the marketing of e-cigarettes is not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The attorneys general of 41 states recently asked the FDA to quickly issue regulations for e-cigarettes. They said they want to ensure e-cigarette companies do not continue to sell or advertise to minors. The FDA has authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco, but not e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco or cigars. Under a 2009 law, the FDA can expand its authority over all tobacco products, but it must first issue new regulations.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found use of e-cigarettes among middle and high schools students doubled from 2011 to 2012. The CDC found 10 percent of high school students had tried an e-cigarette last year, compared with 5 percent the previous year.
Last month Vype e-cigarettes were advertised in a children’s iPad game, the article notes. The owner of Vype, British Tobacco Company, apologized for the ad placement, citing a “breach of protocols by third party used by ad agency.” The mascot of the e-cigarette company eJuiceMonkeys is a smiling, smoking monkey. The e-cigarette company Bull Smoke advertises with pictures of celebrities including movie stars Katherine Heigl and Dennis Quaid, reality TV star JWoww and actor Kevin Connolly.
E-cigarettes come in flavors including gummy bears, chocolate and waffles with maple syrup and butter. Flavors for regular cigarettes were banned in 2009, to reduce their appeal to children.
“Cigarette ads have always tried to exploit kids’ aspirations that they want to be glamorous, rugged, rebellious,” Vince Willmore, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told the newspaper. “Now e-cigarettes are appealing to those same aspirations.”