WASHINGTON, DC — On Sunday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is co-sponsoring the “Protecting Children From Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act of 2014” in order to ban advertisements for e-cigs that target children. Based on that bill the Federal Trade Commission would introduce regulations that prohibit marketing electronic cigarettes in a manner that the company knows will have the likely effect of increasing the use of an e-cig by a child. Currently, e-cigarette companies can avoid marketing restrictions that apply to regular cigarettes, because their products do not contain tobacco. “We have made so much progress over the last decade in keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children, but now e-cigarettes — with their trendy packaging and kid-friendly flavors — are pushing us back in the wrong direction,” said Schumer.
Electronic cigarettes, which do not burn tobacco, but instead contain a battery that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into vapor that is inhaled into the lungs. According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, sampling electronic cigarettes increases the odds that a teenager will go on to try tobacco cigarettes. Consequently voices for government regulations have grown louder recently and lawmakers as well as attorneys are intently waiting for the FDA’s next steps in that matter. Ifrah Law, a Washington DC-based law firm founded by Jeff Ifrah, which specializes in defending allegations of deceptive and fraudulent advertising, provides an insightful overview of the current situation on its FTCBeat.com blog, raising that very question: “Electronic Cigarette Advertising Practices Draw Legislative Attention – Will Regulations Follow?”
According to Ifrah, consumer advocates and public health groups are calling for federal government regulation comparable to that for traditional cigarettes. While various federal laws prohibit tobacco companies from sponsoring sporting events or showing commercials for cigarettes on television, there are no such restrictions for the advertisements of e-cigarettes. Especially critical is the use of cartoon characters to market cigarettes. In 1998, tobacco companies agreed to not use cartoon characters to market cigarettes, but now, more than 15 years after “Joe Camel” disappeared, “Mr. Cool” is trying to sell BlueCigs, a leading e-cigarette brand, in TV ads. The concerns are the same: Young people might be lured into trying e-cigarettes. According to Jeff Ifrah and his team, the e-cigarette industry should be aware that their marketing and advertisements are being closely monitored, regulation and potential lawsuits could unfortunately be on the horizon.
Jeff Ifrah is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and litigator. He gained experience as a trial lawyer and officer in the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps and as trial counsel to the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, followed by an appointment as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey. In 2009 he founded his own law firm in Washington, D.C. where he and his team offer clients strategic and effective solutions. Chambers USA has recognized Jeff for three years in a row as one of America’s leading lawyers for litigation in the areas of White Collar Crime and Government Investigations. He is widely recognized for his legal excellence and declared that he wants to change the way clients think about lawyers.