• August 9, 2020

Advertising watchdog warns over e-cigarette claims

Consumers looking to try out electronic cigarettes need to be wary of the ‘flood of questionable ad claims on the Internet,’ according to the advertising watchdog, truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org).

In a pres note issued through PRNewswire, TINA.org said that it had examined more than 150 electronic cigarette sites, including those operated by wholesalers, retailers of major and minor brands, and independents.

Its review found that nearly two-thirds of the sites made one or more of the following ‘problematic claims’: the use of vaping products is safer than is smoking tobacco products; vaping products can be smoked anywhere; vaping products can help smokers quit their habit; and vaping products are cheaper than are traditional cigarettes.

“Consumers need to do their own independent research and not simply rely on the marketing claims made by these companies on their websites,” said TINA.org executive director Bonnie Patten.

TINA.org said its review came as the US Food and Drug Administration was finalizing regulations for the industry. ‘Last year, the agency indicated it would be extending its oversight of tobacco products to e-cigarettes,’ the watchdog said in its press note. ‘Many online e-cigarette companies, however, are taking advantage of the regulatory gap to market their wares with a variety of suspect claims.

‘Half of the sites analyzed mention a health benefit even though the FDA maintains that the risks associated with e-cigarettes have not been fully studied. In addition, key reports have found the presence of harmful chemicals.’

TINA.org’s review found that 41 percent of the sites marketed e-liquids in ‘kid-friendly’ flavors such as ‘gummy bear,’ ‘fruit hoops,’ and ‘Bubble Yum’.