Paternalism as a Justification for Federally Regulating Advertising e-Cigarettes to Children


How the federal government should regulate e-cigarette advertising targeted towards children generates unique jurisprudential questions regarding the potential for infringement on children’s liberty and autonomy. While it would seem unethical to restrict e-cigarette advertisements to adults, children are in a different category because they lack the maturity and decision-making skills to discern advertising falsehoods from reality. This is especially problematic with e-cigarette advertisements because long-term public health outcomes for children are at stake. This Note assesses the historical and modern regulatory measures used by Congress, the FDA, and the judiciary to regulate how the tobacco industry may advertise to children. Then, using John Stuart Mill’s harm principle and idea of utilitarianism and Gerald Dworkin’s theory of paternalism, this Note postulates how the federal government might appropriately regulate advertising e-cigarette products to children. Finally, this Note proposes a two-step paternalistic policy for how Congress and the FDA can effectively regulate e-cigarette advertisements targeted to children and prevent further harm to America’s youth.


law, jurisprudence, paternalism, tobacco, e-cigarettes, cigarettes, children, advertising



Alyssa N. Sheets (Managing Editor, Washington Univeristy Juriprudence Review; J.D. Candidate, Washington University School of Law Class of 2020)



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