Big Tobacco Could Jeopardize the Ecig Industry With Reckless Advertising
Fifty years ago, smoking was an acceptable social activity and practically every adult puffed on cigarettes from time to time. As the horrible health impact of smoking was uncovered, our society has worked long and hard to reverse the public perception of smoking. Today, it is largely taboo and frowned on by most of the world. Electronic cigarettes entered the scene and gave remaining smokers an alternative to their old tobacco smokes. As ecig sales started to boom, cigarette sales also began to decline and big tobacco companies started taking an interest in vaping. Now all of the tobacco giants have ventured into ecig territory by purchasing existing ecig companies or creating their own vaping products.
In the beginning, it seemed that tobacco companies were interested in ecigs to boost their profits. With cigarette sales falling, they were probably trying to compensate for the loss by capitalizing on the growing ecig fad. However, the tobacco companies could have motives much darker than growing their bottom line.
Currently, manufacturers are free to advertise ecigs on television and radio without any regulation. Even as the FDA works to formally regulate the vaping industry, they have chosen to allow continued advertisements for ecigs. This seems strange considering the fact that cigarette ads were banned back in the 70’s. The tobacco-owned ecigs are taking full advantage of the freedom to advertise and some companies are running elaborate ads featuring celebrities. Blu Ecigs, owned by Lorillard, is well known for aggressive advertising featuring Stephen Dorff, Jenny McCarthy, and other well-known stars.
As the tobacco giants pour more and more money into elaborate ecig ads, it is creating a serious problem for the industry. Many critics feel that these ads appeal to children and teens, particularly those that feature celebrities. Rather than painting ecigs as a smoking alternative in these ads, Blu and other brands are recreating the same kinds of cigarette ads that were banned more than 40 years ago. They are making ecigs look cool and appealing, showcasing vaping as a sexy habit. That’s quite the opposite of the original industry’s intentions.
Tom Glynn from the American Cancer Society said that ecig companies are creating these ads strategically aimed at young adults, knowing that they same celebrities and themes would appeal to teenagers and children. “Since they aren’t able to advertise to youth, they shifted their focus more to the young adults,” he said.
Glynn and others take a look at these ads and make sweeping statements about the entire ecig industry, when in fact it is only a handful of companies that are involved in this kind of questionable advertising activity. The vast majority of ecig brands are marketing their products more discreetly, aiming specifically at current adult smokers that need an alternative to their tobacco cigarettes. Research suggests that 80 percent of the ecig advertisements viewed by young people featured Blu Ecigs, owned by tobacco giant Lorillard.
These big tobacco companies are recklessly pushing their own ecigs and subsequently doing constant damage to the whole industry. They are painting ecigs the exact same way they portrayed cigarettes in the past and it could eventually come back to hurt the brands that actually want to help smokers quit.
In the past, most people thought the big tobacco companies were only interested in ecigs for the profits, but there could be something much darker happening. Perhaps these tobacco companies are purposely recreating the same advertising strategies that got them banned in the past so they ecigs will also suffer a similar fate. If they can push the limits far enough, perhaps ecigs won’t survive and they can go back to their comfortable profits from cigarette sales.
Why do you think tobacco companies are now selling ecigs? Do they just want to increase their profits or are they hoping to kill the vaping movement by working from the inside?