In advertisements for e-cigarettes, consumers are led to believe that e-cigs are a “safer” alternative to traditional cigarettes despite the fact that they too contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance.
In ads under this theme, manufacturers market e-cigs as a “healthier” and more “eco-friendly” recreational product that consumers would be “wise” to switch to. An ad for Blu says the e-cig is the “smart choice for smokers wanting a change.” The headline of the ad reads, “Why Quit, Switch to Blu.” Another ad from an e-cig retailer has the image of a strong, well-built woman, kicking a man who is smoking a cigarette. The text of the image reads, “Smoking Hurts….Try a Electronic Cigarette.” An advertisement for Cigna mentions that “Tobacco is so passé. Get with the now,” and urges consumers to switch to e-cigs. SouthBeach Smoke asks consumers to “Make the Switch Today and Change Your Life.”
While most e-cig companies are careful not to market their product as a cessation device for fear of government regulation, some e-cig retailers do just that. An ad for Xhalers contains the image of a lit conventional cigarette on a hook. The headline reads, “Hooked on Smoking. Get unhooked with Xhalers.” An arrow on a yellow text box with the words, “Quit smoking with this,” points to an e-cig. Nicocure (which is cleverly named to sound similar to Nicorette and even comes in a blue pack similar to the nicotine cessation gum pack) makes the claim that it can help a consumer quit smoking in 30 days. The ad says “Quit Smoking in 30 days or less.” The subtext reads, “The all natural solution to quit smoking in days. We Guarantee it or Your Money Back.” These are a grossly misleading claims made by these manufacturers because the FDA has not approved e-cigs as nicotine cessation device.
The data so far on the use of e-cigs as a cessation device is also contradictory. While there is some evidence to suggest that e-cigs can help a small percentage of adult smokers quit, studies have shown that in youth it encourages dual use of conventional cigarettes and e-cigs. Leading manufacturers of traditional tobacco products may seek to encourage dual use in which the vapor product functions as a nicotine continuity product for use in places where smoking is forbidden.