Surely everyone has been in this situation: You’re walking down the street when you see someone pull out a cigarette and you immediately step away to avoid that toxic smoke, when suddenly the cloudy mist seems to have no aroma at all. You’re not losing your sense of smell, the electronic cigarette likely fooled you into thinking it was a traditional, noxious fume dispersing cigarette. These relatively new devices have seen much backlash from the public, claiming that they’re more harmful than regular cigarettes, and that they do not help smokers quit, but for those with long-term nicotine addictions, its a whole different story. Many people walking down the busy streets of Chicago swear by these inventions, boasting that they’ve finally kicked their horrid habit and are slowly weaning off nicotine. In fact, smoke shops in popular areas such as Lakeview are stocked full of electronic cigarette devices, or e-cigarettes for short, and with good reason. However, these new products mostly rely on word-of-mouth recommendations by satisfied customers and public sampling demos, largely due to a ban placed on e-cigarette advertisements on television. There seems to be a concern that if these products are advertised to the public there will be an increased use of the product in teenagers, which, on the surface, seems like a legitimate concern, until you take into account the continuing sales of traditional cigarettes.
It is quite clear to anyone that the age restriction on cigarettes has failed to keep youths from becoming addicted to nicotine, and this issue is quite unavoidable. Even though big tobacco is not allowed to advertise on television as well, they certainly receive the benefit of subtle advertising in television shows and feature films in which popular actors are seen smoking cigarettes. Considering the influence of some of these public figures, particularly on youths, it is arguable that these media portrayals are going to keep youths longing to smoke a cigarette.
Recently, e-cigarette advertising bans on television have been eased, but they still require that companies do not market their products in a fashion that may appeal to youths. Part of this restriction involves the condition that no actor under 25, or seemingly under 25, be utilized in any commercial for e-cigarettes. Given that many actors on television use cigarettes regardless of their portrayed age, is this a fair restriction? One might argue that these products are helpful, even potentially life-saving, to young cigarette smokers looking to kick the habit before it becomes overwhelmingly difficult. It does seem rather harsh to limit advertising of a product with the intention of helping people quit smoking cigarettes.
What do you think? Should e-cigarettes be restricted from appealing to under-25s?
Meikie, J. (2014, October 9). E-cigarette advertising restrictions relaxed. Retrieved October 9, 2014, from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/09/e-cigarettes-advertising-restrictions-relaxed