New Ad Categories Are Rising Like A Puff Of Smoke - Er, Vapor

Who doesn’t love smokingly hot new advertising categories? Hardly anyone. Then there are those actual smoking-like hot ad categories, like e-cigarettes.

Yes, we are talking about just water vapor -- but perhaps a lot more. People worry that e-cigarettes could be a gateway drug to the real stuff.

Not only that, but trace amounts of nicotine have reportedly been found in some e-cigarettes -- leading to some people finding themselves in emergency rooms after a few inhales.

That kind of important content might not appear in any new TV commercials.

Real cigarettes were banned from TV and radio advertising in 1970.

Some might say e-cigarettes aren’t much different than other leisure products like alcohol that do advertise on TV.  Dangers of abuse are everywhere, but can start somewhere. Soon other stuff might begin advertising on TV -- including marijuana products in those states that have legalized them.  

It might be one thing to let adults have their choices, but younger people might be a different story. Now the Food and Drug Administration, looking to exercise its authority to regulate e-cigarettes, wants to ban selling them to people under 18.



But there is still advertising to deal with. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics is worried about younger viewers getting exposed to e-cigarette advertising.  The group says the amount of such advertising seen by 18- to 24-year-olds rose 321% between 2011 and 2013, and -- perhaps more importantly -- 256% among 12- to 17-year-olds. Who’s cashing in on e-cigarette advertising? Many networks, both broadcast and cable, according to the pediatrics group. They include AMC, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, WGN America, TV Land and VH1. Specific shows -- like ABC’s ‘The Bachelor” and CBS’s “Big Brother” and “Survivor” -- are also running the ads, says the group.

TV can bring all types of viewers in front of big screens, making it hard to find the right percentages of older and younger audiences -- if that kind of stuff is important to you. Much of the same could be said about alcohol advertising, both beer and hard liquor.

Maybe there’s a bigger issue here. One 2012 study suggested the new water-vapor cigarettes could restrict users’ airway flow. E-cigarettes may currently be a legitimate product. But it would be hard to call them a vitamin supplement.

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