By Shefali Luthra and Chaseedaw Giles
November 14, 2019
In one picture, Hannah — or, as her 133,000 Instagram followers know her, @__justpeachyy — reclines in a car, her blue vape accenting the matching tattoo ink on her arms. Her curls are messy by design, and eyes heavily lined. (The post has more than 1,300 likes.)
In another, she gazes at the camera, her hair brushing against her right eye, her blouse slightly unzipped. You swipe left to see the vape juice she’s using today: a mix of strawberry custard, sugar cookie and vanilla custard, paired with, this time, a black device (2,994 likes as of Nov. 2).
As Washington scrambles to crack down on the nascent vaping industry — particularly how it courts young users — so-called influencers, like Hannah, whose online personas exist in a haze of glamour and celebrity, are exposing critical gaps in how government officials regulate the marketing of electronic cigarettes. (Hannah did not respond to requests for an interview.)…
…”It’s been kind of a free-for-all on social media with vaping companies,” said Linnea Laestadius, an associate professor of health policy at the University of Wisconsin, who studies e-cig marketing. “Nobody’s really touched it yet.”