In case you missed it: FDA, FTC cracking down on vaping ‘influencers’ on social media

On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent warning letters to four vaping companies with histories of employing social media influencers on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.  The FDA’s efforts against Artist Liquid Labs, The Humble Juice Company, Hype City Vapors, and Solace Vapor were also co-signed by officials of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).  

The disciplinary action is based on accusations that these vapor companies are inappropriate paying so-called influencers who are simultaneously failing to warn their viewers that vapor products contain nicotine.  The four vapor companies have 15-days to begin complying with the regulations concerning online and social media marketing. 

“It’s critical we ensure manufacturers, retailers and others are including the required health warning about nicotine’s addictive properties on packages and advertisements — especially on social media platforms popular with kids.”
-  Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless in a statement on USA Today

Why is the FTC involved in this latest attack against vaping? 

The FTC has been on a years-long crusade of pressuring social media influencers across all business sectors and industries to disclose publicly when they are being paid to endorse products or services.      In fact, the FTC sent similar warning letters in 2017 to a variety of star athletes, celebrities, YouTube personalities, and other influencers reminding them to disclose any pay-for-play connections while promoting corporate products online.

The FDA/FTC letters are just the latest regulatory action taken against a struggling vapor industry consistently under attack by lawmakers and public health officials claiming teen vaping is a national epidemic.  A significant portion of these attacks tend to land on the doorstep of the Juul company, the world’s leading manufacturer of flavored vapes.

However, Juul has already shut down many of their social media accounts last year, with the exception of Twitter, and the company was not specifically mentioned in any of the four warning letters sent on Friday.  In written responses to questions from senators on Capitol Hill last April, Juul representatives further claimed that the company does not currently engage in paid social media influencing of any kind.  Meanwhile, Facebook has already banned sales promotions and advertising of Big Tobacco and electronic cigarette products across the platform.

Related Article:  Beverly Hills snuffs sales of vaping & tobacco (except at posh hotels & cigar bars)

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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