The ongoing rise in e-cigarette use has been covered this week in one of our ‘national Sunday reads’ – not however, in the health section, but the financial press. So what has them shining their spotlight on the issue? Advertising.
The advertising watchdog has begun public consultation on rules to address what it calls ‘public concern and uncertainty among advertisers’, after the TV adverts were deemed lewd and sexually suggestive. They were, and it was not surprising. Is this not what the drinks industry did for decades? That’s the post-war decades; we haven’t seen this on TV since the 80s.
Let’s look at the facts. 1156 people complained and the ad was banned until after 11pm. It was shown during ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’, although I’m not sure it has the same audience as Midsummer Murders, so it’s clear who they are after! Using sweet flavours attract the young and make the act palatable. Where are the Capstan Full Strength or Woodbines flavours?
The advertising is working though. Usage cost £44m in 2012 and boomed to £193m in 2013. There’s been no data collected concerning the age range of users or of its efficacy in stopping smoking. As an advisor to young people aged 14 years and above, my anecdotal evidence is that it is not primarily hardened smokers who are using these, but youngsters who love the taste sensation. Is it a matter of time until the habitual use is transferred into nicotine use?
I heard a radio ad extolling all the dubious virtues of smoking; the friends gathering and gossiping, not being left outside the group and being a part of the ‘in crowd’ – all being used to hype up the Vaping Fad. However, £193m is not just a fad. It is becoming a way of life endorsed by advertising in a way we’ve not seen before.
I don’t know how much money has been spent on advertising to generate that usage, but my guess is that it is more than we spend on educating the young against smoking.
Shall we let the ‘tobacco giants’ declare that their advertisements are aimed ‘appropriately and responsibly’ for its target audience (wasn’t it them who taught us how to smoke in the first place)? Actually, who is their target audience if 80% of young people say they no longer, or have never smoked tobacco?
Les Jackson, ICE Creates Ltd (firstname.lastname@example.org)