NO SMOKE SCREEN
U.S. wants vaping companies’ sales, advertising data
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has ordered a halfdozen e-cigarette companies to turn over sales and advertising data, the federal regulator said Thursday, in the first sign of a likely probe into their marketing practices.
The order was sent to Juul Labs, RJ Reynolds Vapor Company, Fontem US, Logic Technology Development, Nu Mark and Njoy, the FTC said in a statement.
The FTC is seeking annual sales data and information on giveaways, data on product placement and flavours, and information on the companies’ use of celebrities and marketing on college campuses to sell the electronic smoking devices. The first order was sent about a month ago, an FTC official said.
Altria Group, which owns Nu Mark and has a 35% stake in Juul, will comply with the FTC request for information on Nu Mark, a company spokesman said.
A Juul spokesman said the company will fully co-operate with the FTC.
A Fontem Ventures spokesman said the company has been working with the FTC and will meet the request’s deadline. Reynolds American said it is reviewing the request, while Japan Tobacco said it is looking forward to continuing its dialogue with the FTC.
The FTC order comes a week after a U.S. House panel asked Fontem Ventures, Reynolds American, Njoy and Japan Tobacco, which owns Logic, to stop all advertising of their products in the United States.
Juul had said the same day that it would pull its ads.
The requests come amid a mysterious outbreak of serious vaping-related lung illnesses whose cause has yet to be determined.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday there have been 1,080 confirmed and probable cases of lung illness in 46 states, as well as 18 deaths across 15 states associated with vaping in the United States.
A demonstrator vapes during a protest against the Massachusetts four-month ban of all vaping product sales yesterday in Boston.