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Do Ads For E-Cigarettes Influence Smokers To Quit?

Do Ads For E-Cigarettes Influence Smokers To Quit?


Do Ads For E-Cigarettes Influence Smokers To Quit?

Television advertisements for e-cigarettes have shown surprising consequences, and may hold promising results for smokers looking to quit. According to new research, ads for e-cigarettes can result in hundreds of thousands of people quitting cigarettes, and banning these ads would result in a 3 percent drop in the tobacco quit rate, equating to about 105,000 people. It’s even unclear how many of those people that quit after viewing the ads go on to actually use e-cigarettes.

These results surprised researchers because e-cigarette companies spend approximately four times less on advertisements than other nicotine replacement therapies like gum and patches, not to mention that vapor advertisements are not legally allowed to mention that there are multiple surveys, research projects, and government agencies outside the United States that consider e-cigarettes a safer alternative to cigarettes.

This censorship of e-cigarette advertisements speaks to a larger problem with the way that the American government has treated vaping: not as a cessation tool but as a vice with risks and dangers comparable to combustible cigarettes. These attitudes are reflected in policies and statements brought forth by the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quitting cigarettes can be a difficult and painful process for smokers; I have a theory as to why e-cigarette ads are so effective whereas the nicotine patch and gum therapy are not, and it comes down to optics. Watching someone exhale a vapor cloud on screen is a much more satisfying image to encourage a smoker to put down the combustible cigarettes and pick up a vape as compared to the idea of undertaking an activity that features none of the physical or visual cues smokers identify with satisfaction.

Researchers surveyed 25,000 individuals between the ends of 2013 and 2015, asking about their current smoking status, whether they had tried to quit over the past year, what methods they used and how successful they had been thus far. They concluded that if government agencies like the FDA weren’t so stringent with their various regulations, that the number of quitters could more than triple.

“If the FDA were not considering regulations and mandates that would likely eliminate many e-cigarette producers during our sample period, e-cigarette ads might have reached the number of nicotine replacement therapy TV ads during that period. That would have increased the number of smokers who quit by around 10%, resulting in an additional 350,000 quitters.”

The attitude towards e-cigarettes is very different overseas. In the U.K., where the National Health Service (NHS) has determined that vapor products are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes,multiple advertising campaigns promoting cessation from cigarettes and encouraging people quitting to pick up vapes have borne success. We can only hope such sensibility is coming soon to our shores.