It's common knowledge that advertising for combustible cigarettes is heavily regulated in an attempt to bring the numbers of smokers down to an absolute minimum. With the rise of ecigarettes, however, there has also been a rise in ecigarette advertising, which is not currently regulated like combustible marketing is.
While for the most part, ecigarettes may help people with smoking cessation, a recent study has shown that ecigarette advertising may also have a negative side effect for smokers.
Published in the Journal of Health Communication, the study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication shows that ecig advertising may entice former smokers to pick up the cigarettes.
They studied more than 800 people who were either former smokers, daily smokers, or occasional smokers, and found that they had a greater urge to smoke after seeing an ecig ad than those who didn't view the ads. They also had less confidence that they could avoid smoking than those who didn’t see the ads.
The psychology behind this is simple. In the same way that smokers will see a visual depiction of cigarette paraphernalia (such as lighters, ashtrays, and matches) and will feel more of an urge to smoke, it seems that the ecigarette paraphernalia may have a similar effect. This is despite the fact that ecigarettes don’t offer the same combustible tobacco.
Statistically, 35 per cent of daily smokers who saw the vaping ads admitted to having a cigarette during the study, compared with 22 per cent of daily smokers who saw ads without vaping.
Such findings are significant and may need to be taken into account for any future regulations around ecigarette advertising around the world.