Tobacco Companies Move Into E-Cigarette Market, Concerning Critics

Big tobacco companies are moving into the e-cigarette market, concerning public health groups that say they are concerned the companies will market the products to youth.

A Senate hearing on e-cigarette marketing is scheduled for today, The New York Times reports.

In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced new rules that would allow the agency to regulate e-cigarettes. The proposed rules would ban the sale of e-cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco to anyone under age 18. The rules do not ban marketing of e-cigarettes, which public health advocates had called for.

Currently e-cigarette sales represent only a tiny fraction of the overall smoking industry.

Reynolds, Altria and Lorillard have gotten into the e-cigarette business. Reynolds, which makes Camel cigarettes, will start distributing Vuse e-cigarettes nationwide next week. A subsidiary of Altria, the company that makes Marlboro, will introduce MarkTen e-cigarettes later this year. Lorillard owns Blu eCigs, the nation’s biggest e-cigarette brand.

Reynolds plans a national marketing campaign to introduce Vuse, which critics say could glamorize smoking. The tag line used for MarkTen is “Let It Glow,” which critics say is similar to the hit song “Let It Go” from Disney’s animated musical “Frozen.”

Gregg Haifley, Director of Federal Relations for the American Cancer Society, said unchecked e-cigarette marketing would allow tobacco companies to depict smoking as “sexy, youthful and vigorous,” and that in doing so, they may lead people to start smoking regular cigarettes.

A study published earlier this month found that teens ages 12 to 17 were exposed to many new e-cigarette television ads between 2011 and 2013. Young people in this age group experienced a 256 percent jump in exposure to the ads during those years.