The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is planning to study e-cigarette sales and marketing, and they want input from YOU! The information from the study would be used to create reports like the FTC Cigarette and Smokeless Tobacco Report for 2012, which told us that in 2012, the tobacco industry spent over $8.7 billion – 91% of their total marketing expenditures – advertising and promoting cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products at the point of sale.
The FTC has been preparing reports on the sales, advertising, and promotions of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco since 1967 and 1987, respectively. The reports, which are issued every few years, give tobacco control advocates detailed advertising and promotion spending reports for more than two dozen categories and provide critical information for fighting the “war in the store.” Because of these reports, we know that spending at the POS has increased almost every year since 1967. E-cigarettes only entered the US market in 2007, but have been growing in popularity ever since.
Their reports also tell us what tactics the tobacco industry is using to promote their products. For example, price discounts have emerged as one of the largest categories for both cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. From 2011 to 2012, spending in this category increased by 26% for smokeless tobacco and 12% for cigarettes.
Now, we could have access to this key data and information for e-cigarettes as well. But first, the FTC must obtain clearance from the Office of Management and Budget in order to collect this information for e-cigarette marketers. The FTC is now seeking public comment on the proposed collection of information marketers. Topics for public comment include:
- “The need for the study and the practical utility of the information collected; the accuracy of the Commission’s burden estimates; and ways to enhance the quality and utility of the information collected and to minimize the burden of that collection
- Whether the FTC should seek to collect data according to: 1) the various types of products sold and given away by industry members; 2) the various flavors and nicotine strengths of those sales and giveaways; 3) the various sizes and liquid capacities of disposable e-cigarettes, cartridges, and e-liquids sold and given away; and 4) whether the company sells directly to consumers or to wholesalers and distributors;
- Whether industry members can provide data that distinguishes between, among other things: 1) direct sales to consumers (e.g., online sales) and sales to retailers and distributors; 2) sales and giveaways of disposable e-cigarettes and sales and giveaways of refillable e-cigarettes; and 3) the various combinations of sizes, flavors, and nicotine contents of their e-cigarettes and refill cartridges and e-liquids; and
- Whether the FTC should seek data on state-by-state sales of e-cigarettes and related products”