Report: E-cigarettes appealing to kids
April 14th, 2014
02:52 PM ET
9 years ago

Report: E-cigarettes appealing to kids

Washington (CNN) – Redeploying a major argument from the battle over traditional cigarettes, a dozen Democratic members of Congress released a report on Monday concluding that electronic cigarettes “aggressively (promote) their products by using techniques and venues that appeal to youth” and should be strictly regulated like the non-electronic versions.

“E-cigarette manufactures don’t have to play by the same rules (as traditional cigarette makers),” said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, one of the leaders behind the investigation.

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“E-cigarette makers are free to sponsor youth-oriented events and produce flavors that appeal to kids. And that is exactly what’s happening,” Waxman told reporters on a conference call.

Currently, e-cigarette companies face no federal limits on how they can advertise or market their products. Twenty-eight states restrict the age of purchase for e-cigarettes and a few companies have self-imposed limits, but otherwise the marketplace is wide open.

With this report, the 12 Democrats involved are trying to build pressure on the Food & Drug Administration to “deem” that e-cigarettes be regulated like conventional smokes and therefore face the same strict limits on advertising and sales.

To make the case for tougher regulation, the Congressional report listed several e-cigarette marketing approaches:

· Companies offer dozens of sweet flavored e-cigarettes, including tastes like “Iced Berry” and “Peachy Keen,” which the lawmakers say appeal to children.

· Celebrities who appeal to young people, including singer Chris Brown and actor Robert Pattison, have been paid to be seen with the devices.

· E-cigarette makers have either sponsored or given away their product at hundreds of kid-friendly events, including baseball games and one day at a Six Flags amusement park. Though, scanning the list, the majority of events cited in the report seemed to be at bars, large concerts and music festivals, which may be geared toward adults.

The evidence was enough for the lawmakers.

“(This report) makes it clear the e-cigarette companies… have made a determined effort… to lure children into this nicotine addiction,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, the other leading sponsor of the report.

“It’s time for the FDA to step up.”

Durbin also cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control showing a rise in e-cigarette use, from 4.7% of all high school students in 2012 to 10% in 2013.

In a sign of how the landscape has changed, the e-cigarette industry partially agrees.

“We agree with a number of the report’s recommendations,” said David Sylvia, speaking for Altria, which owns Philip Morris and sells the MarkTen e-cigarette, “including the FDA asserting regulatory authority over these products and all other tobacco products not yet regulated by the agency.”

Sylvia, who is Altria’s spokesman, stresses that the company wants an age limit on e-cigarette sales and does not advertise on TV now. Those are widely-held stances in the industry.

“Electronic cigarettes and vaporizing products are not for children,” wrote Phil Daman, president of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association. “They should be available to consumers of legal age.”

As for the flavors that opponents say mimic candy, Daman insists they are targeted to adults.

“Flavors are very common, and increasingly popular, in many adult product categories, including coffee, liqueurs, and other forms of beverage alcohol,” he said.

A spokesman for R.J. Reynold’s Vapor Company told CNN their corporation similarly does not want to sell e-cigarettes to children and wants sales limited by age.

But while the industry is on board with age restrictions, e-cigarette makers strongly oppose a sweeping decision to group them with traditional cigarettes in general.

“It’s important that they consider e-cigarettes as e-cigarettes, not just take the regulations for convention cigarettes and put them on top of it,” Sylvia said.

Much is still unknown about the effects of e-cigarettes.

Research has been limited so far. There is an open debate over whether the products help smokers move away from traditional cigarettes, which contain different combinations of chemicals, or if the electronic devices encourage nicotine addiction and are a gateway to other cigarettes.

It is not clear when the FDA will announce a decision on e-cigarette regulation.

The 12 Democrats backing Monday’s report were Durbin, Waxman, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia.

Filed under: Congress • Dick Durbin • Henry Waxman
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Most smokers die of heart attacks, not lung cancer (because of the stimulative effects of nicotine). If you think smoking e-cigarettes is somehow safer, you're pretty dim.

    April 14, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    I'm sure the " lets get rid of this so the South can make money again" crowd is already ginning up their posters. Its pointless to use science to convince people who still argue over whether evolution is a fact that inhaling something with carcinogens is bad for them and for the people around them. The GOP has made selfishness a sacrament, and anyone who says otherwise is preventing them from being free.

    April 14, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. Donna

    So while Democrats are attacking cigarettes they are actively promoting legalized pot smoking? Is pot smoking healthy?

    Democrats need to come out for an all out criminalization of cigarette smoking. Think of all the saved lives and reduced healthcare costs. It should no longer be a persoanl choice. If not having healthcare insurance was not acceptable, how can the continuation of cigarette smoking be tolerated.

    Instead of cigarrettes, smokers will just have to adapt to the newer, more healthy alternative, dehydrated carrot and celery sticks. Available in menthol and wth or without filters.

    April 14, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  4. Lizzie

    ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.
    --democrats don't know what they want, increase cigarettes taxes so they can waste more, if they would not have that then I sure they can invent another tax.
    You're also told not to eat bacon, meat, fast food, drink sodas or alcohol, sweets, chips and any processed foods, so what does that leave you, water, can't drink that either according to democrats.

    April 14, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. smith

    The dems are worried about e-cigs but could care less about pot. There is something wrong with this party..smh

    April 14, 2014 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  6. bcrunner

    @Smith: I have never smoked pot. However, the people that I know who smoke cigarettes, they smoke at least a pack a day. I personally have not heard of anyone smoking 20 marijuana cigarettes a day... Have you? Actually the people who have told me they use pot, it appears they use it recreationally and don't smoke it daily....

    April 14, 2014 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Anonymous


    So while Democrats are attacking cigarettes they are actively promoting legalized pot smoking? Is pot smoking healthy?



    The dems are worried about e-cigs but could care less about pot. There is something wrong with this party..smh


    There are studies that show that people who smoke cannabis AND cigarettes develop lung cancer at a rate far less than those who smoke only cigarettes, and those who smoke only cannabis develop lung cancer at a far lesser rate than those who use both. Medical studies have concluded that cannabis decreases the size of several types of tumors. Smoking it might not be very "healthy" but there are other means of consuming that don't involve burning it, and for all intents and purposes it appears that it has medical benefits.

    April 14, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. smith

    @bcrunner-Your missing the point. If smoking something is bad then you can`t say one plant is bad to smoke and one is alright to smoke. No matter how much you do it.

    April 14, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. smith

    @Anonymous-Spare me your pro-pot studies fodder, for all the studies that say it is safer you can find just as many that say that it is the same or worse. Also, most people do not eat pot. The buzz when eating pot is more of a body buzz rather than a head buzz. Plus, you have to eat more to get high as opposed to smoking it and pot isn`t cheap(unless you smoke dirt weed). Personally, I could care less if someone wants to smoke pot. However, pro -pot crowd folks should extend that right to cig users as well. I think liberals don`t like tobacco companies because they are in the south and they help fund GOP issues and that is why they are anti-cigs.

    April 14, 2014 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Filed under "DUH."

    Seriously, if you thought they were actually trying to get you to stop smoking, then you're ridiculous. It's almost like a doublespeak way of trying to counteract the fact that the rate of childhood smoking is going down. Ciggy manufacturers and these "alternatives" manufacturers are desperate to get and keep folks hooked.

    April 14, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |