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FTC orders e-cigarette firms to hand over sales, advertising data

FTC orders e-cigarette firms to hand over sales, advertising data
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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday ordered five e-cigarette firms to hand over sales and advertising data from 2019 and 2020 as the industry remains under fire for allegedly promoting and selling products to underage consumers. 

The commission voted 4-0 to require JUUL Labs, NJOY, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, Fontem U.S. and Logic Technology Development to provide the sales, advertising and promotional expense information to the government. 

The FTC noted in a statement that its “goal is to help the Commission, policymakers, and the public better understand this rapidly growing market.” 

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The commission requested annual data on sales and giveaways, information about the characteristics of the companies’ e-cigarette products, such as the flavors, and annual spending on advertising and promotion. It is also seeking information on e-cigarette product placement, websites and social media used to advertise or sell products, affiliate programs, influencer marketing and college campus programs. 

Fontem U.S. acknowledged it had received the commission’s request, noting it is “a common request for regulated industries and is part of the FTC’s ongoing study of the U.S. e-cigarette market.”

“We have been working with the FTC on our response and look forward to sharing it with them on or before the deadline,” the company said in a statement.

Logic Technology Development confirmed to The Hill that it received the commission's request.

"Logic takes regulatory compliance seriously and, as a responsible company, regularly receives requests for information and cooperates with government agencies," the company said in a statement.

The Hill has reached out to the three other companies for comment.

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Juul announced in September 2019 that it would suspend all print, broadcast and digital advertising in the U.S. amid scrutiny of the industry.

One month later, the FTC made a similar request for sales and marketing data from the five e-cigarette companies for the years 2015 through 2018. The commission included a sixth company, Nu Mark, in its 2019 request.

Concern has mounted in recent years about whether the industry targeted advertisements for e-cigarette products, which usually have nicotine and a flavor, toward young people.

A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study published in December determined that 3.6 million youths use e-cigarettes, with almost a quarter of high school students reporting usage.

The FDA reported the number of young e-cigarette users dropped by 1.8 million in 2020 compared to 2019.