Wyden, Merkley Call For Crackdown on Big Tobacco Social Media Schemes

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate tobacco companies’ use of social media marketing to target young people.

The Oregon senators joined with 13 colleagues in a letter raising specific concerns about tobacco companies’ growing use of social media influencers to market their products directly to young consumers and skirt warning requirements and other advertising restrictions.

“Tobacco companies’ use of social media is the latest chapter in their long history of using misleading marketing tactics to addict young people to their deadly products,” the senators wrote.

“Under current laws and regulations, tobacco advertising is already restricted from television and radio, as well as sponsorship of athletic, musical, artistic, social, and cultural events,” they wrote. “Furthermore, a warning message must be included in advertisements. Obviously, these warnings are not being posted on social media, and as has been made clear, the targeted population is often under 21. This is unacceptable.”

Today’s letter also was signed by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The full text of the letter is available here.

A web version of this release is here.