Multiple vaping companies were sent letters by federal regulators this week over posts by social media influencers that did not include necessary warnings about the vape products.
The warning letters—which were sent to Artist Liquids Laboratories, Humble Juice Co., Hype City Vapors, and Solace Technologies—stated that the posts in question were reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and found to lack the required warning statement that the product both contains nicotine and that nicotine is an addictive chemical.
According to the letters, the posts by influencers in partnership with the respective companies were shared to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, platforms on which some of the influencers had tens of thousands or more followers. In some cases, the letters said, posts by the companies themselves on social media or their websites failed to communicate the required warning language.
“Given the significant risk of addiction, the failure to disclose the presence of and risks associated with nicotine raises concerns that the social media postings could be unfair or likely to mislead consumers,” the letters read. “The FTC urges you to review your marketing, including endorsements by your social media influencers, and ensure that necessary and appropriate disclosures are made about the health risks of nicotine.”
Lorenzo De Plano, a co-founder of Solace, told Gizmodo in a statement by email that the letter his company was sent was related to a post by a single influencer who did not include necessary warnings in their post, adding that the company is no longer working with that individual.
“All of Solace Vapor’s internal packaging, marketing and nicotine warnings are compliant with FDA standards,” Plano said. “Solace Vapor does not condone the use of our products by anyone who previously was not a tobacco and or cigarette user. We will be reviewing and terminating any and all 3rd party influencers who may not be compliant with our marketing policies. We hope that all other companies in our industry do the same.”
The letters stated that the companies would be required to submit a written response within 15 working days of receipt that outlined their timeline for corrective actions. Spokespeople for Artist Liquids, Humble Juice, and Hype City Vapors did not immediately return requests for comment.
The FDA and FTC said that the warning letters come as part of the FDA’s Youth Tobacco Prevention Plan, which among other initiatives is aimed at cutting off access by kids to tobacco products but also includes policing ads and marketing that may target youth. Vape giant Juul previously came under fire for its own marketing, which has been accused of attempting to lure teens to its products and contributing in large part to the widespread use of vape products among kids. The company has since folded many of its social media accounts, including Instagram.
“Years of progress to combat youth use of tobacco is now threatened by an epidemic of e-cigarette use by kids, and unfortunately research shows many youth are mistaken or unaware of the risks and the presence of nicotine in e-cigarettes,” Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement this week. “That’s why it’s critical we ensure manufacturers, retailers and others are including the required health warning about nicotine’s addictive properties on packages and advertisements—especially on social media platforms popular with kids.”