Anti-E-Cigarette Campaigners Demand Ad Regulation, Shout Down Pro-Vaping Advocate

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has launched a withering assault on the e-cigarette industry, claiming the sector is targeting children and teenagers with advertising. That assault calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to step in and investigate the practices of e-cigarette advertising.

“The same companies that peddled ‘Joe Camel’ and similar, kid-friendly images to an earlier generation are back with new ad strategies that appear to target e-cigarettes just as explicitly toward children and teens, with little or no regard for any potential health impacts,” he wrote.

Stringer focused much of his energy attacking sweet flavors, which critics claim appeal to children. Although e-cigarettes are illegal for anyone younger than 18, vaping use tripled among middle and high school students from 2013 to 2014.

Along with public advocate Letitia James, Stringer made the comments at an anti-e-cigarette marketing rally with parents and anti-vaping activists in attendance. The harsh and accusatory tone of the rally was consequently challenged by Jeff Stier of the National Center for Public Policy Research.

“E-cigarettes are a free market solution to the problem of smoking because people are willfully switching from a very harmful product to dramatically less harmful products,” Stier told CBS New York on Sunday.

When Stier tried to offer his point of view to journalists after the rally he was for a time drowned out by the chants of anti-vaping activists.

A study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found there is no link between e-cigarette advertising and the rapidly growing number of young vapers. (RELATED: Study Contradicts CDC Director: E-Cigarette Ads Are Not Related To Teen Vaping)

The research team tracked whether noticing e-cigarette ads was associated with taking up vaping, and concluded “this association was not significant, including when adjusting for all control variables. Noticing e-cigarette advertisement was similarly not associated with starting current use of e-cigarettes between baseline and follow-up.”

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Guy Bentley

Research Associate, Reason Foundation

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