FTC Warns of Deceptive E-Liquid Marketing, Labeling

Stems investigation into packaging, advertising of liquid nicotine
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Attention advertisers, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration have teamed up to warn this week about marketing liquid nicotine in packaging and with advertising that mimics products targeted to children.

The FTC and FDA sent warning letters to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of liquid nicotine products for e-cigarettes saying they were misleadingly labeled as "kid friendly food products such as juice boxes, candies, and cookies," some with cartoon imagery. Some of the companies receiving warnings were also cited for illegally selling the products to minors.

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You can check out the comparisons between the vaping liquids at issue and similar child-targeted food products here.

Left: An e-liquid; Right: a 3-pack of juice boxes

Left: An e-liquid; Right: a 3-pack of juice boxes

The major concern is that children accidentally poison themselves by ingesting the e-liquids.

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"No tobacco products should be marketed in a way that endangers kids – especially by using imagery that misleads them into thinking the products are things they’d eat or drink. Looking at these side-to-side comparisons is alarming," said then-acting FTC chair Maureen Ohlhausen (the letters were sent May 1, before her successor as chairman, Joseph Simons, was sworn in later the same day). 

The FTC launched an investigation in late 2017 into tobacco product labeling and advertising that mimics food products, especially products that appeal to kids. 

The FTC says the branding violates the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act because the ads or labels are false or misleading.

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