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E-Cigarette Brands Spent $57 Million on TV Ads This Year, Including 54% to Networks That Now Reject Them

WarnerMedia was the biggest recipient of ad dollars with more than $15 million

WarnerMedia, CBS and Viacom on Wednesday said they would no longer accept advertisements for e-cigarettes and e-cigarette products. Collectively, those three companies represent more than half of that category’s advertising spend.

According to data from ad-tracking firm iSpot.tv, e-cigarette brands including Juul and Vuse have spent $57 million on TV advertising this year. WarnerMedia, CBS and Viacom collectively represent 54% of that ad spend with $30.8 million through Sept. 17. WarnerMedia networks have been biggest recipient with $15.07 million in ad dollars, with Viacom garnering $10.6 million. CBS, which has only taken advertising from Juul, has brought in $5.1 million.

Along with those three, media companies including A+E Networks and Discovery represent the other 47% of networks that have taken ad dollars from e-cigarette companies. Juul, which has come under fire for marketing towards minors — including a congressional probe — has by itself spent $30.4 million since it began buying TV commercials on Jan. 7. A representative for the company did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on network’s deciding to shun e-cigarette advertising.

TheWrap has reached out to A+E and Discovery, along with AMC Networks and Disney for comment about their own policies regarding ads for e-cigarette products on their networks and streaming services. We will update this story with any response. NBCUniversal told TheWrap in a statement that the company “has a long-standing policy to not accept advertising for cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and all tobacco-related products.”

The suspension of e-cigarette advertising comes amid a nationwide health scare about vaping following the deaths of seven people from unidentified lung ailments experienced by people who vaped. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 380 confirmed and probable cases of those who have gotten sick from the unknown illness.

Last week president Donald Trump announced he would instruct the FDA to ban most kinds of flavored e-cigarettes. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar subsequently said an outline for such a ban would be released in the next few weeks.

In a statement on Thursday, Juul said: “Juul Labs, which exists to help adult smokers switch off of combustible cigarettes, has been monitoring the situation closely. To be clear, the ingredients of our products do not include THC, any compound derived from cannabis, or vitamin E compounds like those found in cannabis-related products. We appreciate the work of the CDC, FDA, and other public health authorities, and are confident that they will get to the bottom of this issue.”

Juul had previously said last week it supported “the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products.”