Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley was joined today by students and experts on tobacco use prevention to release a Congressional report on the marketing tactics by tobacco companies to hook young people on nicotine. Merkley also called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to swiftly finalize regulations that will give FDA the authority over e-cigarettes and other tobacco products and to quickly move forward to prohibit tobacco companies from using flavorings that mimic candy flavors and make it tougher for children to buy e-cigarettes. In Oregon, there are no restrictions on children purchasing e-cigarettes.
“I don’t know how anyone could look at these products – many with flavor names like ‘Tutti Fruiti’ and ‘Gummi Bears’ – and not think that they are directly targeted towards our children,” said Merkley. “We have the FDA to make sure that our kids are safe and healthy, and they have fallen down on the job of regulating flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes. The FDA must act quickly to make sure that we stop seeing these candy flavored tobacco products on the shelves and allowing children easy access to e-cigarettes.”
At today’s event, a report developed by Senator Merkley and ten of his colleagues in Congress was released titled Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Targeted Marketing to Youth. Key findings of the report include:
- Many companies market e-cigarettes in flavors that could appeal to children and teens. For example, e-cigarette manufacturers are marketing flavors like Cherry Crush, Chocolate Treat, Peachy Keen, and Grape Mint.
- E-cigarette manufacturers have significantly increased marketing spending, more than doubling expenditures between 2012 and 2013. In total, six e-cigarette companies spent $59.3 million in 2013 to market e-cigarettes.
- E-cigarette product warning labels lack uniformity and may confuse consumers. While some manufacturers’ warning labels are succinct, make clear that e-cigarettes don’t offer health benefits, and detail the health risks associated with nicotine, others do not.
- Some e-cigarette companies use celebrity spokespeople to market their products and depict e-cigarette smoking as glamorous. For example, celebrities have appeared in advertisements and at a prominent music festival.
A full copy of the report released today can be found on the right-hand side of the screen.