FDA to launch campaign discouraging e-cigarette use by teens

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NEW YORK — The Food and Drug Administration says it is getting ready to launch a campaign to discourage teens from using e-cigarettes, or “vaping.” It comes as FDA officials investigate the marketing strategies and impact of several vaping products, including the most popular, Juul.

Juul is now estimated to have nearly 75 percent of the e-cigarette market.

None of it sits well with mother of four Meredith Berkman.

“This is coming to epidemic proportions and it’s dangerous.”

Berkman said she couldn’t sit and wait for the government to stop kids from using the e-cigarette, Juul so she and two other moms recently launched the grassroots group, Parents Against Vaping,to educate about the dangers of e-cigarettes, advocate against their use, and lobby for legislative action.

“I know what these teens are doing and I don’t want my 11-year-old to get caught up in that either, and we have to act about that now.”

It comes as the FDA says its expanded campaign will use ads to try to convince teens not to vape.

 

In April, the agency requested internal documents from Juul on areas including the company’s research and marketing. Of particular concern to advocacy groups: prior social media campaigns using young models in groups and bright colors.

Back in June, Juul executive Ashley Gould told us the company had changed its marketing approach and did not mean to attract teens.

 

“I will take the criticism that we should have known. I will take that criticism. But we know now. We’re working very hard. And we are committed.”

In January of this year, Juul began a pilot program directed at schools, suggesting Juul could help discourage e-cigarette use. In emails obtained by CBS News, its consultant wrote the program was “designed to provide either an in-school program or a Saturday school alternative to discipline” and that Juul would fund the program.

But some educators were skeptical and Juul has since dropped the idea, telling us in a statement, “we soon learned through feedback from schools, educators and policymakers that our efforts were largely discouraged…”

“I’m not surprised that this program got bad reviews.”

Matt Myers with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said that campaign resembled prior tobacco industry efforts.

“School administrators wisely recognized it’s simply an effort to get the name of the company before kids in a favorable way. Thus it is responsible school administrators who said, we don’t want you in our schools, we will educate our children.”

Juul denies it’s program is based on any tobacco industry ideas. The company said it’s working with the Iowa attorney general to stop teen use of Juul. It said it’s also trying to restrict youth access to Juul and is focused on helping adult smokers switch to Juul from regular cigarettes.