House panel asks e-cigarette companies to cease all advertising

House panel asks e-cigarette companies to cease all advertising
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A House panel is calling on e-cigarette manufacturers to cease all television, radio, print and digital advertising in the United States, in the wake of an unprecedented spike in youth vaping.

The request from Rep. Raja KrishnamoorthiSubramanian (Raja) Raja KrishnamoorthiEx-Washington Football Team employees ask owners to release workplace misconduct report TikTok, Snapchat executives to make Capitol Hill debuts House Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team MORE (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, comes after market-leader Juul announced it would cease all advertising, effective immediately. 

“I am writing today to respectfully, but strongly, request your company to do the same,” Krishnamoorthi wrote in letters sent Wednesday to Fontem Ventures, Japan Tobacco International Inc. (JTI), Reynolds American Inc. and NJOY LLC.

“The American people should not serve as guinea pigs for the e-cigarette and vaping industry or be subject to their misleading marketing and advertising,” Krishnamoorthi wrote.

Fontem, which manufactures Blu e-cigarettes, said in a statement it agrees that children should not use or have access to vaping products, and that it supports initiatives to prevent youth access to its products.

Reynolds American in a statement said it is giving the letter “careful consideration.” A spokesperson for JTI, which manufactures Logic brand vapes, told The Hill it has very "limited and responsible advertising," and "has always communicated responsibly about its products, including always having health warnings on advertising and age-verification on our website."

NJOY did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Juul, which corners the vaping market in the U.S., was recently accused by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of illegally marketing its products as less harmful than cigarettes. The company on Wednesday also said it was replacing its CEO.

Manufacturers of tobacco products may not claim that their products are healthier or safer than cigarettes unless they have approval from the FDA. 

In his letters, Krishnamoorthi noted that no e-cigarette has gained approval as a smoking cessation product.

The vaping industry is facing a critical stretch, as the epidemic of youth addiction to e-cigarettes has collided politically and publicly with an outbreak of a severe lung disease linked to vaping products.

To date, 805 people across 46 states have fallen ill, with 12 deaths.  

Some members of Congress have called on the FDA to remove all e-cigarettes from the market until they can be proven safe. The agency is working on a guidance that will remove all flavored e-cigarette products from the market.