The American Cancer Society has made it clear that it wants nothing to do with Elfbar after the notorious Chinese vape company suggested it might have a partnership last month. The ACS also says that Elfbar can keep his money.
“The American Cancer Society does not partner with or accept monies from tobacco companies and has sent Elf Bar a cease and desist letter to prevent further public deception,” said Timothy Phillips, ACS chief legal officer a statement to Stat News. In an email to Ars, the company said it sent the cease and desist letter to Elfbar last Friday and received no response.
Elfbar did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Ars.
The excitement began in mid-January when Elfbar announced a program called the “Lighthouse Guardian Program” aimed at preventing underage use of its products. The program included a donation component, where Elfbar announced it would make a 10-cent donation to the American Cancer Society every time someone clicked a button labeled “Join to Light” on its website.
In a press release on the program, Elfbar CEO Victor Xiao was quoted as saying that “the total amount of our donation will be over ten thousand dollars.”
Once clicked, the button changes to “Thanks for lighting up” and opens a box asking a user to enter their email address and write a comment. “You do it differently[sic]”, Elfbar tells its users. It is unclear how users’ email addresses are used.
At the time of publication, Elfbar’s website had received over 30,000 clicks.
Phillips told Stat that ACS sent Elfbar a cease and desist letter, urging the company to “immediately cease any use of the American Cancer Society’s name that falsely implies an association with ACS,” including removing all mentions of ACS in the company’s marketing materials.
Elfbar appears to have deleted the press release by the name of ACS, which was circulated on PR Newswire – although it can still be found reprinted elsewhere. The Chinese vape company’s website also removed the reference to the ACS and now says its 10 cent donations will go to an unnamed “non-profit organization.” However, as Stat noted, his Facebook account still contains a post identifying the ACS.
Aside from irking the ACS, Elfbar’s allegedly anti-teen vaping program is likely to anger other health and youth advocates, who accuse Elfbar and makers of similar products of continuing to addict teens to nicotine through regulatory loopholes. Elfbar sells disposable vape products that can still contain youth-friendly flavors. It sells flavors like vanilla ice cream, strawberry watermelon gumball, and blue cotton candy. Such fruity and youthfully seductive flavors gained huge popularity among teenagers with the rise of Juul a few years ago. And they were later banned by the Food and Drug Administration for this reason.
But here’s the loophole: The regulator has banned such flavors only from pre-filled, closed-system e-cigarettes like Juul. Disposable or reusable systems must not have a fruity taste. And as such, their popularity skyrocketed following the FDA’s limited ban that went into effect in early 2020. Although the use of e-cigarettes since a peak in 2019The FDA has drawn harsh criticism from health and youth advocates for being too slow to keep up with the vape market.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionuse of single-use vape products increased by about 1,000 percent (from 2.4 percent to 26.5 percent) among high school vape users between 2019 and 2020, and by about 400 percent (from 3.0 percent to 15.2 percent) among users of e-cigarettes in middle school during this period.
A 2022 CDC study on vaping among teens found the trend has continued. Among the 2.55 million US middle and high school students who reported using e-cigarettes in 2022, single-use vape products were the most commonly used product type, with use attributable to 57 percent of e-cigarette users school users increased to 46 percent of the middle class. The most commonly reported brand was Puff Bar (the use of Elfbar was not specifically examined in the study).
Of all teenage e-cigarette users in 2022, 85 percent used flavored products. Specifically, 70 percent said they used fruity flavors, and 40 percent said they used candy, dessert, or other sweet flavors.
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