Analysis

Promotion of electronic cigarettes: tobacco marketing reinvented?

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7473 (Published 22 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7473
  1. Marisa de Andrade, research fellow 13,
  2. Gerard Hastings, professor 123,
  3. Kathryn Angus, researcher13
  1. 1Institute for Social Marketing, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK
  2. 2Centre for Tobacco Control Research, University of Stirling
  3. 3UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, University of Stirling
  1. Correspondence to: M de Andrade marisa.deandrade1{at}stir.ac.uk

Electronic cigarettes are not subject to the same marketing controls as tobacco products. Marisa de Andrade, Gerard Hastings, and Kathryn Angus argue that their advertising is likely to appeal to young people and undermine tobacco control policy

The market in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has grown rapidly over the past few years. Many small manufacturers have emerged, and the tobacco industry has also taken an active interest in the sector, buying up independent operators and openly strategising about the business opportunities. Press releases show that 121 product trademark applications were made in the UK alone between May 2012 and June 2013.1

This growth has been accompanied by increased marketing. The UK spend on e-cigarette promotion and related smoking materials increased from £1.7m (€2m; $2.8m) in 2010 to £13.1m in 2012. This increase is likely to continue as the tobacco industry gets more involved. In 2013, a British American Tobacco subsidiary spent £3.6m in just 2 months to promote its Vype e-cigarette in the UK market and Lorillard, the US tobacco multinational, which spent £19m promoting its e-cigarette Blu in the United States, acquired the UK e-cigarette brand Skycig.2 3

Concern has already been expressed about these developments. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence notes that e-cigarettes “could, without regulation, be marketed in a way that may ultimately promote smoking,”4 and researchers have highlighted the need to monitor e-cigarette marketing.5 6 7 8 An analysis of e-cigarette coverage in the UK and Scottish press from 2007 to 2012 showed that newspaper stories often describe the products as a way of getting around smoke-free legislation and glamorise use through association with celebrities.9 We were commissioned by Cancer Research UK to study e-cigarette marketing and media coverage in the UK from May 2012 to June …

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