Several e-cigarette manufacturers are facing heat for allegedly violating federal rules that govern tobacco advertising.
Solace Technologies, Hype City Vapors, Humble Juice, and Artist Liquids Laboratories apparently promote their e-liquids on various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They also pay social media “influencers” to endorse their brands.
But according to warning letters issued last Friday by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the e-cigarette manufacturers’ online marketing campaigns failed to disclose the health and safety risks associated with vaping. Specifically, the promotions did not include the following statement: “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical,” which the FDA has required since last August.
“Years of progress to combat youth use of tobacco is now threatened by an epidemic of e-cigarette use by kids, and unfortunately research shows many youth are mistaken or unaware of the risks and the presence of nicotine in e-cigarettes,” acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement announcing the reprimands. “That’s why it’s critical we ensure manufacturers, retailers and others are including the required health warning about nicotine’s addictive properties on packages and advertisements — especially on social media platforms popular with kids.”
The FDA has been working to reduce youth vaping for more than a year.
According to a recent federal survey, e-cigarette use rose more than 78% among high school students in 2018. The e-liquids used with these trendy products are often candy or dessert-flavored, making them attractive to young people.
A growing number of e-cigarette lawsuits claim that vape manufacturers intentionally target minors through online advertising and the use of paid social media influencers. According to these complaints, the online promotions frequently cause young vapers to wrongly assume that e-liquids don’t contain highly-addictive nicotine.
The four e-cigarette manufacturers cited by the FDA and FTC last Friday have 15 working days to respond and specify their plans to correct the problems. Failure to do so could result in further actions, including product seizures or injunctions, the agencies said.
In an email to CNN, Lorenzo De Plano, co-founder of Solace Vapor, maintained that its “internal packaging, marketing and nicotine warnings are compliant with FDA standards.”
He added that Solace doesn’t endorse use of its products by those who weren’t previously tobacco users, and promised the company would review and terminate relationships with any social media influencers “who may not be compliant with our marketing policies.”