Teens Buying E-Cigs Doesn’t Mean E-Cigs Are Being Advertised To Teens
A recent report from the regularly anti-electronic cigarette organization Legacy argues that electronic cigarette advertising is reaching teens with astonishing effectiveness. The report is careful in its wording, but media outlets are respinning it to say that the e-cig industry is marketing specifically at teens.
From June to November of last year, the e-cig industry spent $39 million on advertising according to the report. It goes on to say that e-cig companies are reaching youth with their advertising. What they are saying in a round about way is that although e-cig advertising may or may not be targetted at teens, all they can confirm is that teens do, indeed, see these advertisements and marketing campaigns.
This is like saying that because teens have seen advertisements for adult diapers, that adult diapers are likely being advertised to teens. You can read more on the report here, but be aware that Legacy has been regularly slanted against electronic cigarette primarily because the organization appears incapable of seeing them as anything more than a loophole in tobacco control.
Take another example — the alcohol industry which spends in the neighborhood of $2 billion a year on advertising (more than 25 times the reported e-cig amount). Are we to expect that not a dime of these ad dollars lead to advertising that can and occasionally is seen by teens? Of course not. But apparently the electronic cigarette industry is to be held to a higher standard in which no advertising can occur anywhere that teens or children might see it.
I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be controls on when and where advertising for products that are not for children should be. But, there is a point where advertising for adults (like during the Super Bowl) should not be stifled under claims that one is protecting kids and family when ads for beer, cars, junk food, condoms, and more are fair game.
Finding that teens have seen ads for electronic cigarettes does little to prove that electronic cigarette companies are advertising to teens. As (and I can’t believe I’m quoting Fox News here) Greg Gutfeld sarcastically puts it, “Cause that’s exactly what the evil e-cigarette companies were planning on doing all along. They want to ruin a $2 billion industry by going after your brats.”
Of course awareness of electronic cigarettes among teens is rising rapidly — just as it is with all age groups and demographics. Of course use among teens is on the rise — just as it is with all age groups and demographics.
It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. Aggressive marketing and advertising freedom may be the best way that the electronic cigarette industry can truly kill a large chunk of the tobacco cigarette market. So what if some teens are aware of the product. If they use it instead of smoking, all the better. But that doesn’t need to be the argument.
The argument, if there is any to be made here, should simply be don’t let teens buy them and let’s be sensible about when and where they are advertised.