E-cig ads give former smokers urge to light up

E-cig ads give former smokers urge to light up

While e-cigarettes are often viewed as a safer alternative to smoking, the way they are portrayed in television commercials may be leading folks to start smoking regular cigs.

According to a study, published this month in the journal Health Communication, researchers at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, found watching e-cigarettes in commercials gives current and past smokers the urge to light up.

Using commercials showing people using e-cigarettes collected from online sources, the researchers studied the reactions of more than 800 current, occasional and former smokers to images of people using e-cigarettes. Then the participants urge to smoke was measured.

The findings showed current smokers reported a greater urge to reach for their packs after watching the advertisements. Daily smokers who did not watch the ads reported fewer urges to smoke. In addition, former smokers who watched the ads reported less confidence in their ability to stay tobacco-free.

“We know that exposure to smoking cues such as visual depictions of cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, lighters and smoke heightens smokers’ urge to smoke a cigarette, and decreases former smokers’ confidence in their ability to refrain from smoking a cigarette,” said Dr. Erin Maloney, co-author of the study in a statement. “Because many e-cigarette brands that have a budget to advertise on television are visually similar to tobacco cigarettes, we wanted to see if similar effects can be attributed to e-cigarette advertising.”

Dr. Maloney says the findings are significant with e-cigarette advertising supported by tobacco companies. Estimates peg e-cigarette ad spending at more than $1 billion this year and that number is expected to grow at a 50 percent rate over the next four years.

“Given that the use of e-cigarettes is going up among adolescents and young adults and even among non-smoking teens, it’s not surprising that advertisers are spending more and more on their marketing,” says Dr. Paul Ringel, internist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “This can be seen as a way for tobacco companies to skirt the strict regulations on the advertisement of traditional cigarettes.”

Dr. Ringel believes that if a stand isn’t taken on the regulation of e-cigarettes soon more and more e-cigarette commercials will hit the air, subconsciously urging more and more smoker and former smokers to pick up their cigarettes.

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  1. How do the e- cigarettes affect health if the person only uses nicotine free solutions?

  2. As a former smoker of a pack per day that quit smoking cold turkey 35 years ago, I understand the urge and craving for a cigarette. I don’t understand why, after all that work why anyone would want to flirt with temptation. Please do NOT start again. My Mother quit for 10 years an started again only for her to die from lung cancer at the young age of 57. She never met my wife or her grandchildren. For the sake of your loved ones; give up smoking

  3. “Dr. Ringel believes that if a stand isn’t taken on the regulation of e-cigarettes soon more and more e-cigarette commercials will hit the air, subconsciously urging more and more smoker and former smokers to pick up their cigarettes.”

    This has to be the most misleading, biased comment I have seen over two years of receiving eNews. Inappropriate journalism . . .ok. . .. reporting there is. Granted, the author is simply repeating what an Advocate employee has stated; but the fact the editor allowed the author licensure to not contest a personal assertion is unacceptable. There is not and never will be any “study” that conclusive links e-cigarettes to cigarettes. You may as well ban carrot and celery sticks under the same notion.

    I am becoming increasingly disappointed with Advocate’s consistent lack of integrity.

  4. As a former smoker, I concur wholeheartedly with this study. I have been “tobacco free” for almost 6 years and every time I see an e-cig commercial I feel an urge to smoke a regular cigarette. Every time.

    And as far as what Jefferson has assessed, not once did I feel the urge to smoke after seeing a celery, carrot, or Easter Bunny commercial. This would lead me to believe the vegetable growers of America are not interested in getting me addicted to carrots or celery unlike the tobacco industry which has a definite, vested interest in my addiction to and use of their products. For if I, and millions of others don’t smoke, the tobacco industry has nobody to sell to and therefore would not exist.

    Just the opinion from a former smoker.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.