Research: Candy-flavoured e-cig advertisements attract teen users

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This is an article from Medical Daily about research that strongly suggests that candy-flavoured e-cigarette products really are encouraging more teenagers to take up vaping.

Teen vaping has become a big deal. The rate of teens who use e-cigarettes triplied between 2013 and 2014, from about 4.5 percent to about 13 percent. I assume that figure is likely far higher than 13 percent now. In fact, the rate of teens who vape is higher than the rate of teens who smoke. And further research shows that a higher percentage of kids using e-cigs eventually move on to real cigarettes than those who never take up e-cigs.

Anyway, researchers from the  Behavior and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge said their work showed that kids shown ads for candy-flavoured e-cigs were more likely to want to try e-cigs than kids showed generic ads for e-cigs or kids showed no ads at all.

From the article:

“We’re cautiously optimistic from our results that e-cigarette ads don’t make tobacco smoking more attractive, but we’re concerned that ads for e-cigarettes, with flavors that might appeal to school children, could encourage them to try the products,” said Dr. Milica Vasiljevic, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, in a press release.

The Food and Drug Administration has been for some time now mulling new regulations for e-cigarettes. The FDA has already proposed banning e-cig sales to minors (already banned in the vast majority of states, though there is virtually no control over online sales of e-cigarette products). However, in its draft regulations, the FDA proposed ZERO regulations over e-cigarette advertising, even though the federal government has very strict control over cigarette advertising (no cigarette ads on TV or radio and no cartoon images or characters allowed in print ads as per the 1998 Master Settilement Agreement).

If you don’t believe these e-cig ads are pretty damn blatant about marketing their products to teens as being cool and hip, check out this infamous Blu E-Cigs Cherry Crush ad:

Me and a hell of a lot of other people ripped on FDA during the comment period about the lack of controls over e-cigarette marketing and advertising. The FDA was handed regulatory authority over nicotine products and e-cigs absolutely contain nicotine just like cigarettes, so from where I sit, it certainly appears the FDA has authority to control e-cig advertising, which has been very, very blatant as far as trying to market e-cigs to kids.

A lot of people and tobacco advocacy groups are also not happy about all the candy flavourings in general for e-cigs. Candy-flavoured cigarettes were banned by the FDA a few years ago (but Swisher Sweet cigars are still OK for some reason). I’m personally not as dogmatic about this issue (since I have talked to a lot of adult e-cig users who like the candy flavours), but I am adamant that the FDA needs to crack down — hard — on e-cig marketing to kids.

Anyway, will the FDA ultimately crack down on e-cig advertising? We’ll see. The agency has been working on its final regs for almost a couple of years now, so maybe that’s encouraging that it took the reams of comments about e-cigs  and e-cig advertising seriously.

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