The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued letters to four companies requesting information about their use of social media marketing and influencer marketing related to their electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) brands: Aspire, Joyetech, Vaporesso and Voopoo.
FDA said it used a systematic process in selecting Aspire, Joyetech, Vaporesso and Voopoo from among more than 40 leading ENDS brands, evaluating their presence, reach and activity on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and whether they use age restriction tools for these platforms.
FDA said that its research has found that most leading ENDS brands use multiple social media platforms to market their products and do not use age restriction tools to prevent youth exposure to their marketing.
The agency said that research has found youth engage with ENDS marketing on social media by following and sharing brand messages. Additionally, several sources report that e-cigarette companies are marketing through brand ambassadors and “influencers” – people with large social media followings who can be compensated to promote products.
Once FDA receives the requested information, the agency will use it to assess how these companies have used social media and worked with influencers to market their products and learn who is exposed to the companies’ social media marketing.
FDA said that it will use the information as it evaluates marketing plans in PMTA reviews, conducts social media surveillance and monitoring of social media and influencer marketing, and considers strategies for reducing youth exposure to digital marketing of tobacco products.
The companies have 60 days to respond to the agency. Failure to provide the information is a violation of the law and subject to regulatory and enforcement action by the FDA.