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E-Cig Tactics Rile Politicians

Washington — E-cigarette companies are preying on young consumers by using candy flavors, social-media ads and free samples at rock concerts, according to a report released Monday by Democratic legislators.

A survey of nine e-cigarette companies found that most were taking advantage of the lack of federal regulations to launch aggressive marketing campaigns that target minors with tactics that would be illegal if used for regular cigarettes, according to a report released by Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and signed by 10 other Democratic members of Congress.

According to the report, five of the surveyed companies more than doubled their marketing expenditures from 2012 to 2013, regularly promoting e-cigarettes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Producers have come up with creative flavors, a practice that was banned for tobacco cigarettes by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009. E-cigarette flavor names include Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Treat, Cherry Crush, and Snap.

E-cigarette companies have also sponsored popular events and distributed free samples at shows, including the Coachella Music Festival, the NASCAR tournament and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

They have employed popular celebrities to promote their products, including Courtney Love, Chris Brown and Sevyn Streeter. Brown and Streeter were featured in a music video that included a product placement of an e-cigarette.

“In the absence of federal regulation, some e-cigarette manufacturers appear to be using marketing tactics similar to those previously used by the tobacco industry to sell their products to minors,” the report said.