USA Today, NBC News take on e-cig advertising

south-beach-smoke-e-cigarette

Good, it’s more than me who is bothered by e-cigarette marketing techniques and how they mirror cigarette marketing techniques from 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Both USA Today and NBC News jumped all over this story with extensive articles on a study in the journal Pediatrics explaining how much exposure children have to e-cig advertising.

Researchers from RTI International found that kids aged 12 to 17 experienced a 256 percent increase in exposure to ads touting e-cigs during the study period of 2011 to 2013. The exposure of young adults, those ages 18-24, increased by 321 percent.

Man, and it’s just a coincidence that e-cig use among teenagers has exploded in the last couple of years … right, e-cig industry?

I will reiterate. I don’t have a big problem with e-cigs. They apparently help some people quit smoking, are not nearly as toxic as cigarettes and the steam is not as toxic or annoying as cigarette smoke. I honestly have the attitude that if they genuinely help people quit cigarettes, more power to ’em and to their customers. However, I have a HUGE problem with some the e-cig advertising I have seen in the past year or two … ads making e-cigs look sexy and glamourous and cool. As the headline in the NBC News story reads: “The new Joe Camel?”

The problem is kids starting up with nicotine via e-cigs rather than cigarettes because of all the advertising they’ve seen making it look cool and hip. Nicotine is nicotine. I don’t care what the delivery system is. It’s incredibly addictive and really has little or no redeeming values. It also is bad for your blood pressure and can lead to further addictions (most drug addicts started using tobacco as their first drug — fact.)

According to the NBC News article (with a photo of that anti-vaccination loon — thanks for the return of childhood Measles, dimwit — and e-cig pitchwoman Jenny McCarthy):

The researchers used a common measurement to gauge how many people saw an e-cigarette, and how often they likely saw it. Based on that data, they estimated that 50.0 percent of all kids between the ages of 12 to 17 in U.S. TV households were exposed to an average of 21 e-cigarette ads from October 2012 through September 2013.

They also say data could represent an exposure to an average of 105 advertisements for 10 percent of all U.S. youth or an exposure to an average of 13 ads for 80% of all U.S. youth over the 1-year period.

Those numbers have researchers and other public health advocates worried.

“We don’t know the extent to which an e-cigarette is really a gateway to other tobacco products,” explains lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Duke, senior public health analyst at RTI. “What we do know is that nicotine spurs changes in the brain that leads to addiction. And no one knows what the ramifications of e-cigarettes and potential addiction will be.”

USA Today’s article is titled “An explosion of youth exposure to e-cig ads”

In the USA Today story:

Results of the new media study provide “the strongest evidence that there has been an absolute explosion of youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising on television,” says Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“It’s particularly disturbing precisely because Congress removed cigarette advertising from television because of the unique impact TV advertising has on young people,” Myers says. ” When e-cigarette manufacturers say that they don’t market to minors, it’s deja vu all over again. This study demonstrates the importance of FDA moving rapidly and decisively to protect our nation’s children.”

What’s especially galling to me about this is the Food and Drug Administration does have some power over e-cigs. The agency has recommended, finally, banning the sales of e-cigs and while advocates were hoping to some rules on e-cig advertising, the FDA deferred on this issue. It’s an OK first step, but the FDA needs to do more to try to prevent kids from taking up e-cigs.

 

 

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