LAST WEEK, THE CDC released the results of a 2013 study analyzing the connection between e-cigarette use and normal cigarette use among minors. Not surprisingly, groups such as the American Vaping Association are criticizing both the study and the results, which were published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. E-cigarette lobbying groups are claiming that the results were improperly computed, citing instances in which teen respondents said they would “probably not” try cigarettes were counted as “likely future smokers,” reports The Hill.
E-cigarette regulation is in the national spotlight as multiple regulatory agencies work to determine appropriate regulations. The FDA has yet to formally declare that e-cigarettes, which contain nicotine but don’t cause users to inhale smoke, fall under their regulatory realm, causing tobacco lobbyists to strategically maneuver their way through impending regulations across the country. Tobacco companies entering the e-cigarette business are being represented by major lobbying firms such as Dickstein Shapiro (Lorillard Tobacco) and Shockey Scofield Solutions (National Tobacco).
In the past, tobacco companies have been blasted for defending an unsafe product, and as a result their strategies are now shifting. National Journal confirms the shift, explaining that “as tobacco companies jockey to expand their e-cigarette business, they’re using an updated lobbying playbook that drops opposition to regulations and embraces the prohibition of sales to minors.” This new strategy puts tobacco companies in a better light by showing that they are against e-cigarette sales to minors while allowing them to fight against other more important government regulations such as laws restricting where e-cigarettes can be used, or even limits on flavored e-cigarettes.
While this new strategy seems to be taking positive steps to reduce e-cigarette use among minors on the surface, there are some suspiciously contradictory actions being taken by tobacco companies. Simply looking at e-cigarette advertising suggests aggressive marketing toward minors, with cartoon advertisements and e-cigarette flavors such as Cap’n Crunch, Bazooka Bubble Gum, and Cotton Candy. Tobacco companies may be claiming that they embrace regulations such as the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, but it appears to be an underhanded approach.
The criticism that the CDC’s report is receiving is a perfect example. It’s possible that some of the survey results were wrongly computed, but the outrage and intensity that is being expressed by the e-cigarette industry shows that the link between e-cigarettes and minors is by no means unfounded.