The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently issued requests to four e-cigarettes companies to present critical data on their influencer marketing and social media presence. The companies selected were Vaporesso, Joyetech, Aspire Vape Co, and Voopo.
The reason behind this action is to generate information on the digital marketing strategies of these companies. Moreover, the FDA wants to evaluate the impact of their tobacco products on today’s younger generation.
The long-term goal is to use this data effectively. And plan strategies to decrease youth’s exposure to ENDS products.
But why was this step necessary? And will it help to put FDA regulations on tobacco in place? Read to find details.
What are ENDS?
ENDS or electronic nicotine delivery systems are non-combustible products such as e-cigarettes, vape pens, hookah pens, and vaporizers, to name a few. These items usually contain e-liquid.
Moreover, most ENDS products have nicotine that makes them look like conventional tobacco items.
According to the FDA, the increased use of ENDS products is one of the significant reasons behind respiratory illnesses in young people.
- In 2020, 3.6 million high and middle school kids were current users of e-cigarettes.
- Out of every 10, eight young users consume methanol, fruit, and mint flavors of e-cigarette available in the market or online.
- As per a survey, 81% of youth use ENDS products because of the availability of varying flavors.
FDA Regulations on E-Cigarette and Other ENDS Products
To protect kids against excessive use of e-cigarettes and tobacco products, in 2017 FDA announced a plan to regulate nicotine use. According to this roadmap, all ENDS products must mention health warnings. Moreover, there should be a ban on free samples sold online.
The FDA regulations on tobacco are also applicable to manufacturers. They must show whether their products meet the public health rules set by the law or not. Moreover, producers of all newly regulated tobacco products must get marketing authorization from FDA before selling their goods.
This FDA regulation on e cigarettes and other tobacco-related products also restricts the access of these by the youth. According to the plan, no kids under 18 can buy e cigarettes or similar items.
The 2017 Tobacco rule is still pretty much applicable today. However, to make it more effective and youth-friendly, on March 17, 2021, the agency took it a step further.
The letters sent out to four e cigarette brands are an extension of the above regulations.
The FDA has been very active in controlling the consumption of ENDS products in the US. And the main aim behind these regulations is to prevent kids from being hooked on nicotine products.
FDA believes in continuing its efforts by keeping a check on the selected companies. Moreover, it wants to make sure that young kids aren’t a part of any ENDS-related marketing strategy.
But Aren’t E-Cigarettes Safer than Regular Tobacco Products?
You may have across information on e-cigarettes and other ENDS as safe alternatives to tobacco products. While it might sound believable, it isn’t entirely correct.
Some ENDS products are less harmful than others. However, the FDA recognizes the potential benefits and risks of e-cigarettes.
If e-cigarettes are less toxic and help users shift from smoking, they may be considered safe for consumption.
However, if any new technology encourages youth to consume nicotine or increases long-term use of other harmful products, it may harm public health.
E cigarettes have the potential to create both scenarios and hence demand strict regulations. That is why the FDA is taking action to strategize the marketing of e cigarettes in a better way.
Many online platforms have helped tobacco manufacturers to engage with youth conveniently. The power of influencers and eye-catching marketing gigs have attracted young people to consume e-cigarettes more than ever.
Moreover, the updated digital branding has encouraged consumers of every age to use e cigarettes at least once in their lives. Also, the availability of online stores has made this process a lot more convenient.
Young people engage with ENDS marketing by sharing and following brand messages. Moreover, many e cigarette manufacturers sell their products through brand ambassadors who are influential individuals on social media platforms. They have millions of followers and have the power to motivate them to buy certain products.
To make sure the youth stays away from such manipulating campaigns, the FDA has taken this initiative. It has selected the four e cigarettes brands according to their high reach, activity, and presence on social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
Details of Information Requested
The data requested involves, documents:
- Covering plans on social media marketing and advertising
- With information on future content and its cost
- Including methods to restrict marketing exposure to youth
- With strategies to target an audience of a particular age
- Containing plans on including influencers, bloggers, or affiliates as part of their marketing campaigns
- On data related to the number of followers according to their age groups
- With summaries of any actions taken to reduce youth’s exposure to advertisements, branding, and labeling of all ENDS products
This list of the required information is not limited, though. FDA may ask for additional data if needed. Moreover, all the four selected companies have 60 days to prepare these documents and respond to this request.
If they fail, the agency has every right to take action against this violation.
In the past few years, the number of youngsters consuming e cigarettes and other ENDS products has increased vastly. To control this problematic situation, the FDA has requested four e cigarette companies to provide data on their social media marketing strategies.
This step is vital to analyze and prepare plans to reduce the youth’s exposure to nicotine products. Moreover, the agency hopes this information will help create stricter FDA regulations on e cigarettes.
However, will this work and create any difference? Well, we will have to wait a few months to find out.
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