GSK dips into e-cigarette ad rules

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GlaxoSmithKline wants Europe to treat electronic cigarettes like smoking-cessation products, which means no advertising, among other restrictions.

Bloomberg notes that GSK is not alone, and that Novartis and J&J, which each have a slice of the stop-smoking medication business, also want electronic cigarette promotion to come under the same rules as their products.

The FDA has oversight of tobacco products, and the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has oversight of e-cigarettes that are for therapeutic purposes. The FDA is trying to extend its oversight to specifically include e-cigarettes as well as apparatuses like hookahs or future tobacco items.

Marketing materials for the blu line of e-cigarettes does not position the product as a therapeutic device to help smokers quit. Instead, the promotional materials use spokespeople like Jenny McCarthy to emphasize that an e-cigarette is acceptable, or “freedom to have a cigarette without the guilt.” Promotions also make a dig at the physical filth associated with traditional tobacco, with claims like “no ash, no smell” and “more socially acceptable than cigarettes.”

The FDA's website notes that consumers and the regulators are currently dependent upon manufacturer safety claims, and do not know about risk factors such as whether there is any sort of conversion rate from e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes and any potential risk when used as directed, among others.

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