The e-cigarette industry could support the case for flavours – currently strongly associated in regulators’ minds with an appeal to youth – by changing its marketing strategies. That’s the view of Chris Howard, general counsel and chief compliance officer for E-Alternative Solutions, the US company behind the Cue Vapor System.
Howard was looking to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s recent advance notice for proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) to offer clear direction on the flavours question.
The ANPRM seems to suggest that the FDA believes flavours – in particular, candy and sweet flavours – are responsible for driving youth uptake, which may suggest serious regulation is just around the corner.
But Howard believes that in addition to closely scrutinising the imagery used to market e-cigs, minimising their appeal to young people can also be a matter of such factors as when and how companies run their advertising. Enforcing voluntary standards is also part of this struggle.
“It’s about really showing you care about youth, not just following regulations,” Howard says. “No one wants to attract youth. The goal is to give smokers an alternative.
“We think flavours are critical to bringing smokers [to reduced risk products].”
The ANPRM document concedes that flavours may be responsible for leading adults as well as youngsters to embrace e-cigs. But it is a pronouncement that could alter the climate of the whole industry, especially if it leads on to harsh restrictions.
Howard strongly recommends all in the industry to join and become active in a trade group, which can give members access to lobbying and advocacy efforts. His preferred choice is the Vapor Technology Association (VTA).
Chris Howard will be speaking at the Next Generation Nicotine Delivery event in Atlanta, Georgia, on 24th and 25th April.
– Daniel Mollenkamp ECigIntelligence staff
Photos: Jessica Gottlieb