1 in 4 high school students use e-cigarettes. That's 5.3 million middle and high school students across the US. Rates of youth e-cigarette use more than doubled between 2017 and 2019, to the point that the U.S. Surgeon General declared the problem an “epidemic.”
A huge reason for that growth is the marketing of flavored e-cigarettes which often have as much nicotine as entire pack of regular cigarettes, making them highly addictive. BPI has been working with Tobacco Free Kids to remove this on-ramp to youth addiction by ending the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
In September 2019, Trump said he’d address youth vaping through a national policy. After the announcement, we immediately started a campaign targeting people we knew could influence what the final White House policy became - primarily that it wouldn't be watered-down by the tobacco lobby. We ran high-impact ad placements on more conservative-leaning sites and an emotional
"5 Million Reasons" campaign across national sites. As the announcement kept getting delayed, we added new creative and took advantage of the news coverage to launch an "Open Letter to the Trump Administration" petition campaign urging them to keep their promise. It acquired nearly 110,000 signatures in less than a month which we printed out and delivered in person to the White House.
After months of public pressure campaigns, the White House finally announced a policy that amounted to a near-total walkback of their promise. In particular, the Administration exempted disposable e-cigs and flavored liquids used to refill e-cig devices – both of which are increasingly popular with kids.
We developed a nationwide campaign alerting parents, political elites, educators, and health care professionals to this failure, using eye-catching creative that underscored the variety of addictive, kid-friendly flavors (from gummy bear and fruit loops to peppermint and berries) still available.
As the House of Representatives took up Rep. Pallone’s bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco products including e-cigs, we identified about 20 districts whose representatives could swing the vote and served two sets of creative in each: one targeting members’ in-district offices urging them by name to act, and another asking parents to call their members and urge a vote in favor. We also ran creative within the DC DMA to reach lawmakers here in town. Not only did the bill pass, but we again saw strong performance across the board with all districts exceeding engagement benchmarks.
As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, health experts started warning that those who smoke or vape are at higher risk for developing the worst lung impacts associated with the illness. We developed a clearinghouse of resources on the importance of healthy lungs, featuring resources for parents looking to talk with their kids about the elevated risks of e-cig use.
And we're going to keep fighting until there is a national ban on the marketing of flavored e-cigarettes.
*This campaign won the 2020 PRWeek Purpose Award for Best Advocacy.