Most people have a sweet tooth; our brains are hard-wired to like the high-energy nutrition that comes from sweet tasting natural foods. This is why some products like children’s cough syrups and chewy vitamins come in different fruity flavors. The sweetness appeals to children and makes it easier for the child to consume something that he or she would not want to eat or drink otherwise.
Unfortunately, companies that do not have the youth’s best interest in mind can apply the same logic when trying to market unhealthy products to children and teenagers. One industry that has definitely taken advantage of this type of tactic is the e-cigarette industry.
Are e-cigarette companies targeting children and teenagers?
Ever since e-cigarette companies began operating, their marketing tactics have been executed with the intention of appealing to the youth. There have been four marketing tactics in particular that the companies have applied in order to target the youth. The first method involves offering scholarships to the youth.
According to the Associated Press, there have been several e-cigarette companies that have offered scholarships to students in exchange for writing essays that support the use of vaping. Although the companies intend to target students 18 and older, there are many scholarships that are offered to students under the age of 18 as well; in fact, the companies do not specify any specific age limit when offering these types of scholarships.
The next marketing tactic involves the use of social media. E-cigarette companies incorporate the use of newsfeeds and timelines to market and promote their products to the youth. The next marketing tactic e-cigarettes would use involved sponsored musical events and festivals.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, e-cigarette companies would invest in vapor lounges, device charging stations, and social media phone booths to entice other children and teenagers to engage in using e-cigarettes. The final marketing tactic is the marketing tactic that has landed several e-cigarette manufacturers in hot water with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): the introduction of appealing flavors to the youth.
How have e-cigarette companies tried to appeal to the youth through the introduction of sweet flavors?
To toe the line between the flavors that e-cigarette companies cannot distribute, e-cigarette companies have used the introduction of several sweet flavors to appeal to young people and entice them to try their nicotine-filled products. The companies have not only offered flavors that many children would love to try, but have packaged some of their products to resemble some of the food items.
For example, some of the flavors range from cotton candy to gummy bears to a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal flavor. The marketing tactic has proven successful for the e-cigarette companies. According to the Truth Initiative, a study was distributed to middle and high schoolers to determine the reasons for e-cigarette use among the youth. From that study, there were 43 percent of students that expressed that the appealing flavors were the main reason why they began using e-cigarettes.
How has the FDA responded to the marketing tactics of e-cigarette companies?
The FDA is among the organizations that find the motives and actions of the e-cigarette companies questionable. Recently, the agency sent out a mandatory order to three small e-cigarette manufacturers to stop selling flavored products. The three e-cigarette companies – JD Nova Group LLC, Great American Vapes, and VaporSalon – are required to pull 55,000 products from the market, whether those products have been distributed on the market or not.
What were the deciding factors that led to the FDA’s decision?
The deciding factor for the agency was the decision of the e-cigarette companies to sell vapes that come in appealing flavors. The agency listed some of their flavored vapes that would seem appealing for many young people to try, like Coca Cola and Apple Crumb. The FDA regulators claimed that the three companies failed to provide significant evidence that the health benefits their products could offer to adult smokers outweigh the potential risks their products present to young people.
Janet Woodcock, the FDA acting commissioner stated that the agency is aware of the appeal of flavored vapes to young people, and used that factor to assess the impact that the sale of flavored vapes would have on the potential or actual use of e-cigarettes among the youth.
What has been the public’s reaction to the FDA’s decision?
This month, the FDA will be responsible for making a more universal decision regarding the fate of 2 million vaping and tobacco-related products. Each product that contains different amounts of nicotine and appealing flavors must be reviewed and analyzed by the agency.
Despite the fact that the agency has yet to reach a decision about the continued marketing of these products, some vaping advocates have taken the FDA’s decision as an attack on vaping, and believe the entire industry to be at risk. Greg Conley, president of the advocacy group American Vaping Association, condemned the agency for going after the three e-cigarette companies.
Health organizations that are against vaping, on the other hand, were in full support of the agency’s decision. The American Lung Association posted a tweet on its Twitter page stating that no flavored tobacco products are appropriate for the protection of public health, and that all these dangerous products should be discontinued.
One of the former FDA commissioners went so far as to blame the e-cigarette companies for putting themselves in the predicament they are currently in. Instead of complying with the regulations and demonstrating why these types of products can assist smokers in quitting tobacco, many of the companies wanted to resist the regulations that were set in place by the FDA and other government agencies.
For now, flavored vaping formulas are legal and most of the injuries from them won’t show up for decades. We hope the government takes these dangerous products off the market before they become another source of business for us as other dangerous products have been.
Product liability cases require an exhaustive knowledge and understanding of Arizona’s laws, and our Phoenix and Tempe injury lawyers will tell you from the start if you have a claim. We only take cases on a contingency basis, so if you don’t win, you pay nothing. At Plattner Verderame, PC, we proudly provide honest people with top-notch legal representation that is also affordable. Call us at 602-266-2002 or fill out a contact form to learn how our experienced Phoenix and Tempe defective product lawyers can assist with your case.
Nick is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, the Arizona Association for Justice (formerly the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). He currently serves on the AAJ’s Political Action Task Force and its Oversight Committee, and on the Board of Governors for Revitalization in Arizona.
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