Cigarette Ads Back On TV? Not Quite

Bans on TV advertising for specific products don't slow down technology.  TV ads for tobacco-laden cigarettes, so bad for our health, were stopped in 1970. But now they are back -- in theory.

Ads for e-cigarettes – or "digital vapor cigarettes" -- where users breathe in water vapor, not smoke, sometimes with a hint of flavor, have started appearing on TV.  The e-cigarettes look cool at parties and seemingly get a nice reaction from one's lungs.

Initial purveyors of these products using TV to sell their wares came from relative unknown marketers. But now the products have move to the bigger companies, with R.J. Reynolds, the second-largest cigarette maker, among them. Reynolds will reportedly start TV ads for its e-cigarette, Vuse.

Along with this will come complaints that traditional tobacco companies are using e-cigarettes as a gateway product. One bit of research supports this theory: 40% of current traditional cigarette users have tried e-cigarettes.



Media-wise cigarette companies can still buy ads for their traditional products on other platforms, especially magazines.  But TV has always been the big media driver for many consumer products.

TV advertising for another questionable, but legal, product -- hard liquor -- changed in the mid-1990s when a voluntary ban began to come undone. Ads first started on many cable TV networks, then moved to broadcast networks and stations in fringe time periods, like late night.

To be sure, new e-cigarette marketing isn't a philanthropic effort. Reynolds said it is not marketing the device to tobacco smokers looking to eventually quit, nor will it make any "health claims" in its Vuse marketing.

The environment for recreational products with troubled pasts continues to change. Consider the notion of widespread marketing -- including TV -- for marijuana products, newly legal in some states.

3 comments about "Cigarette Ads Back On TV? Not Quite".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, June 7, 2013 at 3:41 p.m.

    If an e-cigarette is a cigarette in theory, than O'Doul's is the same as beer.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, June 7, 2013 at 6:56 p.m.

    How a product is sold, where it is sold, advertising, marketing, huge budgets and promotions, with more brands and distribution anyone can remember is the difference between e-cigaretts and O'Doul's. But you know that.

  3. Edmund Singleton from Winstion Communications, June 9, 2013 at 4:33 a.m.

    Can't wait for the first person to say they started smoking marijuana because of a TV ad not join pressure...

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