E-cigarettes and the marketing push that surprised everyone

The e-cigarette debate rages on over at the BMJ…

E-cig ads like these potentially undermine effective quitting messages. Photo source: http://www.trinketsandtrash.org/

Martin McKee writes  how ” the more attention policy makers give to the aggressive marketing of e-cigarettes in their own countries, the more they conclude that the downsides far exceed any benefits.”

Naturally, for such a hot topic, opposing views are quick to materialise. Clive Bates argues that the:

“advertising of e-cigarettes is not something to worry about or ban, rather it should be embraced. It is how smokers will find their way to these new products and it is how new brands will push the cigarette brands aside. The normal controls on truth and fairness in advertising, supplemented by restrictions of the type applied to alcohol, should be sufficient to balance public health opportunities and fears that something might go wrong.”

Or, is it actually the case that e-cigarettes are, as Mike Daube states:

” a weapon of mass distraction – distracting advocates, researchers, and decisions makers from time and resources that could otherwise be devoted to measures we know to be effective, and the community from messages about quitting. “

But it remains the case, as Simon Chapman points out, that e-cigarettes have yet to deliver on lofty promises of:

“rapid and spectacular migration from incontestably far more dangerous cigarettes, driven by an unprecedented consumer acceptable nicotine delivery system; negligible harm to others from the exhaled vapour; children who would have taken up cigarettes, taking up ecigs instead; few children “currently” adopting ecigs who would have never started smoking; no ex-smokers nostalgically returning to nicotine via ecigs; and horrible tobacco caused diseases eventually declining far more than now.”

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