E-Cigarette: Big Tobacco’s Television Comback

On January 1, 1971, the federal government banned cigarette ads from radio and television. After over four decades, a few of the top major tobacco producers are returning to the television airwaves with television commercials featuring e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are smoke free electronic products that transform nicotine and other chemicals into vapor which is inhales by the user.   They have been presented to long time smokers as an alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes.  E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco which is the main reason why the tobacco companies are able to advertise on television again.  The smokeless products are considered to be a promising form of new revenue by the tobacco companies. According to testimonials collected by eCigBrandReviews, an E–Cigarette review website, the products let users quit tobacco cigarettes and those that make the switch report to feel healthier.

Lorillard, makers of Kent and Newport Cigarettes, began an ad campaign in October with television commercials for their Blu E-Cigarettes.  R.J. Reynolds, makers of Winston and Camel Cigarettes, are currently planning television ads for its Vuse e-cigarette to begin airing in August.

Blu E-Cigarettes had posted first-quarter sales of $57 million. That is up 46% from the last quarter of 2012.  R.J. Reynolds is planning to expand it distribution of Vuse.  Altria (a.k.a. Phillip Morris, makers of Marlboro cigarettes) is planning to release its own e-cigarette product later this year.

The FDA hasn’t regulated the sales of e-cigarettes yet, although they are expected to do so soon.  E-cigarettes smokers are not in danger of the harmful effects that come with tobacco smoke, although the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes is highly addictive, and the tobacco companies are not making claims about health benefits.

State and local governments are currently regulating the sales of e-cigarettes, and Lorillard and Reynolds say they will support restrictions on selling to minors.  The two companies conducted a series of demographic studies to help target their e-cigarette ads to television viewers over the age of 21.


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