Category Archives: e-cigarette advertising

Good news, bad news — CDC: Teen smoking lower than ever, but largely because of e-cigs


According to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control released this week, the teen smoking rate in the 2013 dropped to its lowest recorded level — 12.7 percent (down from 14 percent in 2012 and 15.8 percent in 2011).

This is pretty impressive when you consider the teen smoking rate was 28 percent in 2000, so the rate has been cut by more than one-half in 13.

Sounds great at first, unfortunately, there’s more to the story. Anti-tobacco education funding has been dropping for the past 15 years, so what’s really behind these numbers (I would like to think that seeing less smoking in movies and TV is a factor.)?

Unfortunately, the rise of e-cigs is probably one of the biggest factors. According to the group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the rate of teens using e-cigs has jumped from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 4.5 percent in 2013 (in raw numbers, that’s an increase from 250,000 kids in 2011 to 760,000 kids in 2013).

Combine the smoking and e-cig numbers (crude mathematics, because it doesn’t take into account kids smoking and using e-cigs both, but I’m just doing it to make a point). In 2011, that combined number would be 17.3 percent of kids using some nicotine product. In 2013, number would be 17.2 percent using a nicotine product.

I believe that is probably giving a pretty fair picture of what’s really going on. Fewer kids taking up smoking, more kids taking up e-cigs.

Now, e-cigs are not as bad as cigarettes, they don’t contain anywhere near the same level of carcinogens as cigarettes, but they still contain nicotine, which isn’t any good for you and is incredibly addictive. Also, the jury is out about whether e-cig use will eventually lead to cigarette use.

Numbers on a smaller scale from the state of Minnesota paint a similar picture.

From a Minneapolis Star-Tribune article:

An estimated 15,000 students have tried e-cigarettes without having tried any traditional tobacco products before, according to results from the 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey released Monday. Overall, 12.9 percent of high-schoolers said they had tried e-cigarettes in the 30 days prior to the survey.

By comparison, just 10.6 percent of high school students said they had smoked traditional cigarettes within the previous 30 days — down from 18.1 percent in 2011.

The survey, which included more than 4,200 students from 70 schools, suggests that e-cigarettes are now more popular among teens than the real thing.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is using these numbers as a clarion call for the Food and Drug Administration to crack down harder on e-cigs.

The FDA a few months ago proposed a set of regulations on e-cigs that were fairly lax. The best part of these proposed regulations was banning sales to kids under 18. However, there was absolutely zero in the proposed regs to crack down on e-cig advertising, which uses many of the same techniques used by cigarette makers to make cigarettes look cool and suave. Activists also want the FDA to crack down on sweet flavourings for e-cigs (I’m not as worked up about this, but I do want the FDA to curtail the advertising.).

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids sees it the way I do:

This increase [of e-cig use] comes as e-cigarette makers have marketed their products with the same tactics long used to market regular cigarettes to kids, including celebrity endorsements, slick TV and magazine ads, sponsorships of race cars and concerts, and sweet flavors such as gummi bear and cotton candy.

Minnesota officials agree:

Given looser restrictions on marketing “vaping” products, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, state health commissioner, said he worries that Minnesota youths will try the new devices and eventually develop addictions to nicotine.

“I have a real sense of déjà vu about e-cigarettes,” said Ehlinger, who cited the youth marketing — now outlawed — that drew children and teens to cigarettes years ago.

CDC: E-cig use more than doubles among teens — see, I TOLD YOU

Electronic cigarette

The Centers for Disease Control released a report last month (in a major catch-up mode right now with the Lounge going down for a couple of weeks), that the use of e-cigs  more than doubled from 2011-2012.

I reiterate … I reiterate until I make your eyes bleed reading it, I don’t have a problem with e-cigs EXCEPT for the way they are being marketed to kids. Sure enough, according to the CDC, the use of e-cigs rose from 4.7 in 2011 to more than 10 percent in 2012 among high school and middle school kids (I cringe at what the rate is today, it takes a year or two to compile this data.). 10 percent in 2012? That rate might be 25 or 30 percent by 2014.

According to the CDC press release:

“These data show a dramatic rise in usage of e-cigarettes by youth, and this is cause for great concern as we don’t yet understand the long-term effects of these novel tobacco products,” said Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These findings reinforce why the FDA intends to expand its authority over all tobacco products and establish a comprehensive and appropriate regulatory framework to reduce disease and death from tobacco use.”

Unlike cigarettes, there are absolutely no regulations regarding the marketing of e-cigs. Big Tobacco in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement agreed to stop marketing — at least blatantly marketing — to teens. That meant no more Joe Camel, and no more product placement of tobacco products in PG and PG-13 movies. The MSA was a badly flawed agreement, but that is genuinely one of  the really good things that came out of it — marketing of tobacco products to kids (or what Big Tobacco calls, “new smokers,”) has ostensibly stopped.

However, the FDA recently completely punted on controlling the marketing of e-cigs to kids. The FDA did ban e-cig sales to minors, but run away like a spinless banshee from the idea of controlling the advertising of e-cigs, apparently paranoid over a First Amendment lawsuit (never mind the fact that nicotine is now officially a federally controlled substance, like Vicodin or codeine, which means the FDA has the regulatory authority over how it’s promoted … it’s THEM, not ME). Me — and thousands of others, hopefully — wrote the FDA about this and told them they were screwing the pooch on this issue and hopefully when the agency releases the final version of its regs, it will show more spine over marketing of e-cigs. Then again, I’m not holding my breath.

I’m perfectly OK with e-cigs being used by people trying to quit cigarettes, especially as a last resort when all else has failed, in fact I’ve urged my brother to try e-cigs, but I am not OK with kids using e-cigs instead of cigarettes. E-cigs still contain nicotine, which is a staggering addictive substance and it doesn’t do anyone any good for kids to get physically addicted to something that has little other value than a short-term jolt of energy.




WHO: Regulate e-cigs, control marketing to teens

I missed this a couple of weeks ago. The World Health Organization came out with a very strongly worded statement ripping e-cigs, over both their marketing and lack of regulations.

WHO, a United Nations agency, joins the American Heart Association in expressing strong concerns about the exponential growth of mostly unregulated e-cigs. WHO specifically talks about its concerns that the tobacco industry, seeing cigarettes in decline and a booming new industry in e-cigs, is getting aggressively involved in the e-cig business. (Blu E-Cigarettes, which is the No. 1 e-cig company, was purchased last year by Lorillard, which in turn is being purchased by RJ Reynolds.

In its report, released late last month, WHO specifically calls for:

* Stopping the marketing to teens

* Banning them in public places

I’m 100 percent for the FDA to control the marketing of e-cigs to teenagers, as I see this as by far the biggest problem with e-cigs. More and more kids instead of becoming addicted to nicotine through cigarettes, are becoming just as addicted to nicotine through e-cigs. And the industry has been incredibly blatant in marketing to kids. In my opinion, the FDA has this power over tobacco products because tobacco products contain a controlled substance — nicotine — and thus the agency has the same power over e-cig marketing. However, in its draft regulations on e-cigs released several months ago, the FDA completely punted on the marketing issue and instead focused on banning sales to teenagers, which to me is just a start.

I’m not so worked up about banning them in public places, at least not yet, because the effects of the e-cigs’ steam doesn’t appear to be nearly as bad as cigarette smoke (studies are mixed on this and I’m trying to keep an open mind on it.)

WHO doesn’t have any regulatory authority so its report is simply a recommendation to world governments.

Not everyone is on board with the WHO recommendations as a number of public health officials signed a letter asking WHO not to overreact and over-regulate e-cigs because of their potential health benefits of helping some smokers quit.


American Heart Association issues warnings about e-cigs, need for stricter regulation


Oh, very interesting. The American Heart Association (not some rabble-rousing anti-smoking group — the AHA), this week came out with a very strongly worded position paper on e-cigarettes.

Specifically, the AHA expressed the need for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigs. The FDA proposed some regulations on e-cigs a few months ago, and is still taking public comment on those regs.

NBC story. (Emphasizing that e-cigs should only be used as a “last resort” to quit.

USA TODAY story.

To wit, the AHA brings up three main concerns about e-cigs:

  •  They target young people
  • They keep people hooked on nicotine
  • They threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use, according to the American Heart Association’s first policy statement on these products.

I really appreciate what the AHA is saying because while in a lot of ways I am on the fence about e-cigs (If they legitimately help people quit smoking, and some people swear they do, more power to them), BUT the major issue I have with e-cigs is the way they are being marketed, and in some cases, downright blatantly so, to kids.

From the AHA statement:

“Nicotine is a dangerous and highly addictive chemical no matter what form it takes – conventional cigarettes or some other tobacco product,” said American Heart Association President Elliott Antman, M.D. “Every life that has been lost to tobacco addiction could have been prevented. We must protect future generations from any potential smokescreens in the tobacco product landscape that will cause us to lose precious ground in the fight to make our nation 100 percent tobacco-free.

Manufacturers present e-cigarettes as “cool and sexy and acceptable, which is a problem because you’re increasing addiction,” Bhatnagar said.

Exactly, the point is, e-cigs are being marketed as cool and sexy and acceptable, but in fact, they contain nicotine. So while they might help some smokers (emphasis on “some”) quit, they are keeping those smokers addicted to nicotine, which has its own health issues (such as increasing blood pressure, etc.). And worse yet, if kids use them because Blu ads make them look hip and cool, then they’re being turned into nicotine addicts to begin with — not by cigarettes, but by e-cigs.

The AHA agrees:

The FDA’s proposal fell short of what was hoped for by the AHA and other public health advocates. They believe e-cigarettes should be regulated under the same laws as other tobacco products and prohibited from being marketed or sold to young people. The proposal, they said, did not go far enough in limiting online sales, advertising and flavored products, all tactics used to make e-cigarettes appealing to young people.

I personally don’t get that worked up about the flavoured e-cigs, but I completely agree with the AHA about the marketing issue. The FDA in its original proposal declined to address e-cig marketing (possibly because the agency is concerned about being sued over the First Amendment), but did ban e-cig sales to minors. That’s a start, I suppose.


Time Magazine: The e-cig industry has won the regulatory battle


Sobering story from Time magazine: The e-cig industry has won the regulatory battle.

Sobering because of two main reasons: There will be no FDA control over sugary, fruity flavourings for e-cigs and there will be no FDA control over e-cig marketing.

A couple of months ago, the FDA issued its draft regulations for e-cigs. It was a mixed bag. Fortunately, the FDA came right out and banned e-cig sales to minors (but did not ban Internet sales of e-cigs), but completely steered away from trying to control the marketing of e-cigs.

This was a big disappointment, because it’s become pretty obvious that e-cig companies (which are increasingly becoming cigarette companies) are marketing aggressively to young people, using sexy and “come hither” imagery, just like tobacco companies have done since Kingdom Come.

Time magazine jumped on the story, saying the proposed FDA regs were a big win for the e-cig industry, especially over the marketing of e-cigs. The Time article also brings up a point I have mentioned in previous blog posts, that the agency is likely afraid of a big lawsuit over the First Amendment in trying to limit e-cig marketing.

Stanton Glantz, one of my favourite anti-tobacco advocates, is quoted extensively in the Time article.

“The deeming rule that the FDA has proposed is very, very, very limited in its scope,” says Stanton Glantz, a cardiology professor at the University of San Fransisco and one of the most vociferous proponents of strict rules for e-cigs. “It requires a useless warning label and says they can’t be sold to kids under 18, but it doesn’t put any restrictions on internet sales, which means kids under 18 can easily get them. It has no restrictions on marketing at all.” This puzzles Glantz. “You would think that the Obama administration would be supporting tobacco control because it would reduce health care costs.” As far as Glantz is concerned, the administration has erred on the side of the tobacco interests.

Naturally, one of the biggest concerns among health advocates is children’s access to e-cigarettes—and marketing of e-cigs to teens is up 321%, as TIME recently reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 2 million students in the U.S. have tried e-cigarettes. Policies to address the issue run the gambit from the least controversial—like establishing an age restriction on purchasing e-cigs and child proof packaging—to the more divisive, like prohibiting marketing to teens, prohibiting internet sales, and restricting the use of kid-friendly candy-like flavors.

But even the most basic restrictions—like better product labeling, and child proofing—were absent from the FDA’s initial deeming rules, making other restrictions on advocates’ wish lists seem that much further away. “Any meaningful rules on marketing of e-cigarettes are years, and years, and years away,” says Glanz, pointing out that if restrictions were imposed, e-cig companies would likely sue over marketing restrictions on first amendment grounds.

A spokesman for an c-cig company had this predictably weasel word response:

Craig Weiss, the CEO of NJOY in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the leading electronic cigarette brands, says there are appropriate curbs, but there is no reason e-cigarette marketing should be as strict as tobacco. “You are confusing the arsonist with the firefighter,” he says. “Why would you treat products that are part of the solution as products that are part of the problem?” he says. Though NJOY is careful not to make direct claims that their products can help smokers quit, Weiss is a big believer in the potential for electronic cigarettes to replace cigarettes. Weiss supports limits on the age of actors in ads and rules against e-cigs appearing in cartoons, but he rejects the idea that there is anything wrong with his ads, which do feature young adults.

Well, the problem, Craig, is that while e-cigs might be a solution for some adult smokers (the jury is out whether e-cigs are a very effective quitting tool) to quit smoking, they are not any kind of “solution” when 16-year-olds are using them instead of cigarettes.



USA Today, NBC News take on e-cig advertising


Good, it’s more than me who is bothered by e-cigarette marketing techniques and how they mirror cigarette marketing techniques from 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Both USA Today and NBC News jumped all over this story with extensive articles on a study in the journal Pediatrics explaining how much exposure children have to e-cig advertising.

Researchers from RTI International found that kids aged 12 to 17 experienced a 256 percent increase in exposure to ads touting e-cigs during the study period of 2011 to 2013. The exposure of young adults, those ages 18-24, increased by 321 percent.

Man, and it’s just a coincidence that e-cig use among teenagers has exploded in the last couple of years … right, e-cig industry?

I will reiterate. I don’t have a big problem with e-cigs. They apparently help some people quit smoking, are not nearly as toxic as cigarettes and the steam is not as toxic or annoying as cigarette smoke. I honestly have the attitude that if they genuinely help people quit cigarettes, more power to ’em and to their customers. However, I have a HUGE problem with some the e-cig advertising I have seen in the past year or two … ads making e-cigs look sexy and glamourous and cool. As the headline in the NBC News story reads: “The new Joe Camel?”

The problem is kids starting up with nicotine via e-cigs rather than cigarettes because of all the advertising they’ve seen making it look cool and hip. Nicotine is nicotine. I don’t care what the delivery system is. It’s incredibly addictive and really has little or no redeeming values. It also is bad for your blood pressure and can lead to further addictions (most drug addicts started using tobacco as their first drug — fact.)

According to the NBC News article (with a photo of that anti-vaccination loon — thanks for the return of childhood Measles, dimwit — and e-cig pitchwoman Jenny McCarthy):

The researchers used a common measurement to gauge how many people saw an e-cigarette, and how often they likely saw it. Based on that data, they estimated that 50.0 percent of all kids between the ages of 12 to 17 in U.S. TV households were exposed to an average of 21 e-cigarette ads from October 2012 through September 2013.

They also say data could represent an exposure to an average of 105 advertisements for 10 percent of all U.S. youth or an exposure to an average of 13 ads for 80% of all U.S. youth over the 1-year period.

Those numbers have researchers and other public health advocates worried.

“We don’t know the extent to which an e-cigarette is really a gateway to other tobacco products,” explains lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Duke, senior public health analyst at RTI. “What we do know is that nicotine spurs changes in the brain that leads to addiction. And no one knows what the ramifications of e-cigarettes and potential addiction will be.”

USA Today’s article is titled “An explosion of youth exposure to e-cig ads”

In the USA Today story:

Results of the new media study provide “the strongest evidence that there has been an absolute explosion of youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising on television,” says Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“It’s particularly disturbing precisely because Congress removed cigarette advertising from television because of the unique impact TV advertising has on young people,” Myers says. ” When e-cigarette manufacturers say that they don’t market to minors, it’s deja vu all over again. This study demonstrates the importance of FDA moving rapidly and decisively to protect our nation’s children.”

What’s especially galling to me about this is the Food and Drug Administration does have some power over e-cigs. The agency has recommended, finally, banning the sales of e-cigs and while advocates were hoping to some rules on e-cig advertising, the FDA deferred on this issue. It’s an OK first step, but the FDA needs to do more to try to prevent kids from taking up e-cigs.



Big Tobacco getting into the e-cigarette business — a good thing or a bad thing?

Photo Credit: Goodluz / Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Goodluz / Shutterstock

Here is a story from Alternet about how Big Tobacco companies are buying into the e-cigarette business. This began a couple of years ago when Lorillard (Newport Cigarettes) bought Blu E-Cigs, the biggest e-cig company out there. RJR owns an e-cig brand called Vuse.

The article correctly points out that there are no rules or regulations controlling marketing of e-cigs to minors, which is a major concern to me and other anti-tobacco advocates. E-cig companies have been pretty aggressive in using the exact same techniques to market their products as the tobacco companies used to market cigarettes 30 and 40 years ago.

This is a fairly scathing article from Alternet, and based on my research into e-cigs, I see some of the points they are making (I totally agree with the article’s points about the dangers of no control over e-cig marketing), but don’t entirely agree with all of them, suggesting that e-cigs are nearly or virtually as bad as cigarettes. A number of commenters (and e-cig proponents) are taking Alternet to task for the article.

Let me make it clear — again — I am not an e-cig proponent. BUT, I have read and heard enough anecdotal evidence to accept that they may help SOME people quit smoking. And while e-cigs are not entirely harmless, nor are they anywhere nearly as toxic as cigarettes.  Do, I think they should be regulated? Absolutely. The FDA is doing this and importantly, is banning sales to minors. Do I think their marketing should be regulated? Absolutely. The FDA is NOT doing this, but should. Do I think they need to be banned? No, I’m not on board with that yet.

The article decries that Big Tobacco is getting into the e-cig business. I don’t see this as either a bad thing or a good thing. I see it as an inevitable thing.

Big Tobacco has lost billions in sales in the U.S. and the rest of the West in the past 25 years as smoking rates have plummeted, and lately smoking rates among young people, which had stubbornly refused to drop, finally starting dropping dramatically about four or five years ago.

Big Tobacco is a lot of things, evil, venal, amoral, etc., but it isn’t stupid. The execs see the future, and the future is, cigarette sales in the West will never remotely approach where they were 30 years ago, and will continue to decline. So, what are they doing? Diversifying. Into e-cigs. It’s capitalism, love it or hate it.


Great article comparing today’s e-cig ads to vintage cigarette ads


This is a point I’ve been making for weeks now. E-cig companies are making their ads almost identical to cigarette ads from 40 and 50 years ago, using sex and sophistication to sell their products.

Business Insider came up with a feature showing the amazing similarity between today’s e-cig ads and vintage cigarette ads. The problem with this? Tobacco companies are on record using sex, sophistication and even cartoon characters with the expressed purpose of marketing those cigarettes to teens (or, what the industry liked to call “new smokers.”)

It’s no secret e-cig use has been growing exponentially the last couple of years, and in particular, it’s becoming increasingly popular with kids. One of the reasons for the use of e-cig among kids is that until now, it’s been legal to sell e-cigs and e-cig products to kids, so it’s a lot less hassle for kids to get their hands on them than cigarettes (and ultimately much cheaper, too).

It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except e-cigs contain nicotine and as we all know, nicotine is one of the most physically addictive products on Earth, so the e-cig companies can act all innocent, but they know damn well kids are buying their product and their product will addict kids to nicotine.

Anyway, here is the gallery from Business Insider with these amazing comparisons.


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Legacy puts out scathing report on e-cigarette marketing to kids


Good. Apply the pressure to the FDA to crack down on e-cigarette advertising aimed at teens.

The Legacy Project put out a no-nonsense report this week taking the e-cigarette industry to task for pretty blatantly marketing e-cigs to kids.

I will quote from Legacy directly here:

Key findings include:

Use and Awareness among Teens and Young Adults:

  • Results indicate that awareness of e-cigarettes among young people is nearly ubiquitous, ranging from 89% for those ages 13-17 to 94% for young adults ages 18-21.
  • In addition to this extremely high awareness of e-cigarettes, ever-use (whether a product has ever been tried) among these age groups is also high, with 14% of those ages 13-17 and 39% of those ages 18-21 reporting having used e-cigarettes.
  • Results show that, among the major advertising channels, youth awareness of e-cigarette advertisements is highest at retail sites, with 60% of teens ages 13-17 and 69% of young adults ages 18-21 saying they always, most of the time, or some of the time see e-cigarette advertising at convenience stores, supermarkets, or gas stations.

Industry Advertising:

  • Overall, e-cigarette advertisers spent $39 million from June through November 2013, with magazine and national TV accounting for more than three-quarters of dollars spent.
    • Magazines made up the majority of the ad dollars spent ($23 million; 58%)
    • National TV ads were second, accounting for 19% of spending at $7.4 million.
  • From June through November 2013, the blu, NJOY and FIN brands put the most money towards advertising, accounting for 86% of the overall category spend.
    • Far and away, blu spent the most money on paid e-cigarette advertising during this time, accounting for 56% of all e-cigarette ad spending—more than all other brands combined.

Just two weeks ago (April 14), key Senate and House leaders released a similar report concluding that e-cigarette companies are aggressively promoting their products to young people – much like tobacco companies have in the past. The report surveyed nine e-cigarette companies and found that:

  • Many companies are promoting their products through sponsorship of youth-oriented events, and some companies are offering free samples of e-cigarettes.
  • E-cigarettes are available for purchase in stores and online by children and teenagers.
  • Surveyed e-cigarette companies extensively utilize social media and product websites to promote their products.
  • E-cigarette product warning labels lack uniformity and may confuse or mislead consumers.

These two complementary reports on e-cigarettes demonstrate that many of the tactics that have long-been banned or restricted by both the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement and the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act are now being utilized to market these emerging products to youth. Legacy’s report adds to the data Congress has already collected – showing that e-cigarette companies are aggressively promoting these products and reaching our nation’s young people.


Pretty damning. I really hope the FDA reels in the e-cig industry. I don’t have a problem with e-cigs, but I’ve grown increasingly turned off with their advertising techniques and how they are obviously trying to make e-cigs look hip and sexy (rather than promoting them as a smoking cessation product.). The biggest problem with e-cigs is they do contain nicotine and nicotine is incredibly physically addictive. Physical addiction is not sexy or cool. It’s one thing if someone uses e-cigs to quit smoking, it’s quite another if a 16-year-old starts using them because they seem cool.

Legacy is a group formed as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement and is the group behind those “Truth” TV ads you have probably seen over the years.


FDA will ban e-cigarette sales to minors

These 13-year-olds legally bought their e-cigs (OK, they're from the UK, but you get the point)
These 13-year-olds legally bought their e-cigs (OK, they’re from the UK, but you get the point). No more e-cig sales to minors in the U.S.

Well, this came a lot faster than I expected. I expected the announcement next week.

As fully expected, the Food and Drug Administration today announced that it intends to ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The sales ban is part of a series of e-cigarette regulations proposed by the FDA. The regulations will be finalized after a 75-day comment period, but I expect few changes.

Here is one story from NBC and here is another. Here is a CNN story.

Here’s the upshot of the new regulations.

The big one. No more e-cig sales to minors under the age of 18. This is really important. Because e-cigs have been completely unregulated, “vaping” has become more and more popular with kids, because frankly, it’s a lot less hassle for kids to get their hands on a e-cigs rather than cigarettes. According to the CDC, the percentage of kids under 18 using e-cigs double from around 5 percent in 2011 to around 10 percent in 2012. That’s alarming. I’m guessing that number is approaching 20 percent today.

While e-cigs may not be as toxic as cigarettes, they still contain nicotine, which is incredibly addictive, so c-cigs, when used by kids as a substitute for cigarettes, are addicting kids to nicotine. E-cigs might be fine for someone trying to quit smoking, but not for some 16-year-old to use instead of tobacco.

Other new regulations are no more free samples, a ban on vending machine sales in any business open to minors, a mandated disclosure of all ingredients in e-cigs and a mandated warning label that nicotine is physically addictive.

The one disappointment to me is there are no proposed restrictions on e-cigarette advertising. I think the advertising has been fairly out of control similar to what was going on with cigarettes 30 years ago. E-cigs are being made to look cool and sexy to kids, and there have even been e-cigs ads using women’s panties and Santa Claus.

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids issued  a statement with understandably mixed sentiments, taking the FDA to task for taking so long to develop these regs (three years) and urging them to address marketing to kids in the future. However, CTFK is pleased that there is a ban for sales to kids.

However, I also acknowledge that restrictions on advertising may have run into some First Amendment issues. Perhaps the FDA didn’t want to deal with the headaches of First Amendment lawsuits. The FDA CAN enforce advertising restrictions for tobacco products because the tobacco companies agreed to those restrictions in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. In that agreement, Big Tobacco agreed to not use cartoon characters (like Joe Camel … or Santa Claus, etc.) to promote its products. I honestly do not know how much power they have to restrict marketing of e-cigs.

Anyway, like I said, the big one is ending the sales of e-cigs to minors. That crap had to be cracked down on. We don’t need a new generation of nicotine addicts being created, no matter what the delivery system. The other big fear I have with e-cigs being sold to kids, and I wonder how often this has happened, is kids getting the bright idea to directly use the liquid nicotine that comes in vials along with the e-cigs. Seriously, I could just see 13- and 14-year-olds trying that. That liquid nicotine in its concentrated form is highly poisonous and powerful.