FDA: Misleading Marketing of E-Cigarette Liquid Could Appeal to Children


E-cigarette liquids are being marketed in a way that may appeal to children, the FDA says. The regulatory authority, along with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), have issued 13 warning letters to manufacturers, retailers and distributers of e-cigarette liquids that have advertisements and/or labeling that resembles kid-friendly food products. The FDA says some packaging and advertisements resemble packing for cookies, juice boxes and candy. Some contain cartoon-like imagery.

Many of the companies that were sent warning letters were also cited for illegally selling their products to minors.

“No child should be using any tobacco product, and no tobacco products should be marketed in a way that endangers kids – especially by using imagery that misleads them into thinking the products are things they’d eat or drink. Looking at these side-to-side comparisons is alarming. It is easy to see how a child could confuse these e-liquid products for something they believe they’ve consumed before – like a juice box. These are preventable accidents that have the potential to result in serious harm or even death. Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t putting children in harm’s way or enticing youth use, and we’ll continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

Gottlieb added that while the agency encourages the development of “potentially less harmful forms of nicotine delivery,” the FDA will not allow those developments to come at the expense of children.

Examples of products outlined in the warning letters include: “One Mad Hit Juice Box,” which resembles apple juice boxes; “V’Nilla Cookies & Milk,” which resembles Golden Oreo cookies and Nilla Wafers; and “Vape Heads Sour Smurf Sauce,” which resembles War Heads candy.

In its press release, the FDA says the FTC joined the agency on the warning letters under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which bans deceptive or unfair advertising.

The FTC and FDA have asked for responses from each of the companies within 15 working days. The companies have been asked to explain their actions and the specific actions that will be taken to address each concern.