WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A U.S. Senate committee took up the issue of electronic cigarette marketing and its appeal to the younger demographic.
At a hearing Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation debated whether flavors such as Cherry Crush draw in youth similar to the way Joe Camel did decades ago, according to The Associated Press.
"The last thing anyone should want to do is encourage young people to start using a new nicotine delivery product," Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.) said as he opened the hearing.
Jason Healy, president of blu eCigs, and Craig Weiss, president of NJOY, fielded concerns for more than two hours about the industry's marketing practices -- such as television commercials and event sponsorships. Both e-cigarette company executives insisted they aren't trying to glamorize smoking and don't target young people, and that their products are a critical alternative for people desperate to quit traditional cigarettes, the news outlet reported.
Healy testified that his company has voluntary restrictions in place, such as limiting advertising placements to media and events where the target audience is at least 85 percent adults. His company, blu eCigs, is owned by Lorillard Inc.
As for appealing to youth with flavors such as Cherry Crush, Peach Schnapps and Piña Colada, he noted that the average age of consumers for blu e-cigarettes is 51.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally released its deeming regulations for electronic cigarettes in April, after a three-year wait. The proposed rules are currently in the public comment period and can take at least a year to be finalized. The regulations would include prohibiting the sale of such products to consumers under 18 years old, adding warning labels, and FDA approval for new products.
At this point, the deeming regulations do not include a ban on flavors or marketing restrictions.