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FDA Asks ENDS Companies for Social Media Marketing Information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting information from four e-cigarette companies about their use of social media and influencer marketing.

Responses will help the FDA learn who is exposed to the companies’ marketing and aid the FDA as it evaluates marketing plans in premarket tobacco product application (PMTA) reviews, conducts social media surveillance and considers strategies for reducing youth exposure to digital marketing of tobacco products.

“Amid growing concern about the marketing of ENDS products to youth, FDA seeks to further understand the relationship between rising youth exposure to online ENDS marketing and youth ENDS use,” the FDA said.

A Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) analysis found that most leading ENDS brands use multiple social media platforms to market their products and do not use age-restriction tools to prevent youth exposure to their marketing, the FDA said. E-cigarette companies are also marketing through brand ambassadors and influencers, or people with a large social media following who can be compensated to promote products, and may be likely to engage youth while marketing tobacco products, the agency said.

The FDA chose the companies—Aspire Vape Co., Los Angeles; Joyetech, Irvine, Calif.; Vaporesso, Shenzhen, China; and Voopoo, Shenzhen, Guangdong—through a systematic process that looked at more than 40 leading electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) brands. The agency said it evaluated the companies’ presence, reach and activity on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

The companies have 60 days to respond to the FDA, which sent the letters on March 17. Failure to respond could result in enforcement action by the FDA.

Hannah Prokop/CSP