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FTC intends to track e-cig sales and marketing

All indications are that the popularity of e-cigarettes is rising. Truth Initiative has been calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regularly collect and report sales and marketing data on cigars and e-cigarettes. Today we learned the FTC is taking its first steps in that direction to focus on e-cigarettes, just as the Food and Drug Administration has sent final regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review that will give the agency authority to regulate those products.

As it has done for the sale of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, FTC can help us better understand the variety of e-cigarette products, where and how they are being sold and how much is being spent to advertise and promote these products.

Some financial analysts estimate that U.S. sales of e-cigarettes will surpass $10 billion by 2017. And research from Truth Initiative and others points out that e-cigarette companies are spending heavily on marketing and much of it is targeted to youth. Our 2014 report, “Vaporized: E-cigarettes, advertising and youth,” drew from surveys of youth and young adults using an online panel to measure their use and awareness of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette advertising, and found that awareness of e-cigarettes was nearly ubiquitous, ranging from 89 percent for 13-17 year olds to 94 percent for young adults aged 18-21. We will be updating this report this Fall.

Truth Initiative CEO and President Robin Koval said FTC reporting on e-cigarettes should help us better understand the wide variety of e-cigarette products and where and how they are being sold, but she was eager to see the FTC’s efforts reach further. “We must get a measure of how much is being spent across all media channels to advertise and promote these products,” Koval said. “The FDA needs that information to create effective and comprehensive regulations surrounding e-cigarettes – and we need the FDA to act swiftly to protect youth and young adults from all addictive nicotine products.”