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January 3rd, 2014:

New e-cig ad pushes the line: Friends don’t let friends smoke but vaping is OK

2014 is expected to be the Year of the E-cig, as manufacturers race regulators to the wire

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. And now, a new ad campaign tells us they don’t let them smoke either. Ah, but there’s a catch, as the NJoy ad has it: Friends do let friends vape.

“For everything friends do for each other,” a voiceover says. “This new year return the favor. Friends don’t let friends smoke. Give them the only electronic cigarette worth switching to: the NJoy King.” It concludes with the tagline: “Cigarettes, you’ve met your match.”

Marketers are expecting 2014 to be the Year of the E-cig, as Big Tobacco moves into the business in a big way. And the NJoy ad takes more than a few leaves from Big Tobacco’s playbook.

Most obviously, it glorifies vaping, just as the Marlboro Man, before he succumbed to lung cancer, epitomized the rugged outdoorsish qualities of Marlboros.

It also comes tantalizingly close to making health claims for e-cigs, which could get a not-so-pleasant reaction from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies that regulate advertising, since the clear implication of the NJoy ad is that puffing away on an e-cig is healthier than smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette.

It’s illegal to make health claims that are not substantiated by scientifically sound evidence, which so far is somewhat scant in the case of electronic cigarettes. The NJoy ad is playing the same game Big Tobacco played for years, before broadcast tobacco advertising was finally banned altogether — surrounding its products with happy, healthy, spirited young people.

“We do not advertise e-cigs as a smoking cessation device,” a company spokesman said in a statement to AdAge, an advertising trade journal. “However, a unique aspect of the NJOY video is that we are appealing to the friends & loved ones of smokers — asking them to leverage the fundamental connection and emotional bond of love that bring us all together and strengthens our trust/intimacy. Everyone can identify with the desire to help our friends & loved ones become the best versions of themselves, and goal (especially in the new year!) to strive to be better versions of ourselves.”

Whether that statement cuts much ice with regulators remains to be seen. Probably the exclamation mark won’t help too much.

Big bucks

Just to be clear, the e-cig industry is not in this for its health, or anyone else’s. Big bucks are at stake. E-cig sales are expected to hit $1.7 billion this year, assuming the FDA doesn’t shut the market down or severely curtail it.

The agency has said for more than a year that it is considering new e-cig marketing regulations, possibly including new rules on television advertising, although an outright ad ban may not be in the cards without Congressional action.

Tobacco TV commercials have been banned for 40 years but the tobacco companies worked to build their brand identities before the ban took effect, and most of the major brands have survived to this day on the basis of history, habit and other forms of advertising and promotion.

Big Tobacco — Altria, Reynolds American and Lorillard — have waded into the e-cig market in a big way and are expected to use the same technique to build their electronic brands before the government bestirs itself.

Tired of waiting for the feds, New Jersey, North Dakota and Utah, among others, have already banned vaping indoors. As one of his final acts, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a similar measure. But the states and cities have no effective way to control national advertising, so the indoor vaping bans are, at the most, petty annoyances to the e-cig industry.

NACS: China Considers Public Smoking Ban

from the US NACS:

Within the next year, lawmakers are expected to enact a national ban on smoking in public places in China, said Yang Jie, deputy director of Tobacco Control Office for the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We can see what is happening in the rest of the world,” Yang told The Wall Street Journal, suggesting China will follow smoking cessation trends of other countries.

China, with more than 300 million smokers, is the world’s largest consumer of tobacco.

Changing China’s current cigarette culture will be difficult. Cigarettes are cheap, with many packs costing less than $1. The World Health Organization last year recommended that China triple its tobacco tax to discourage smoking among youths. Additionally, the current deputy director of China’s State Tobacco Monopoly Administration is the brother of China’s premier.

The Ministry of Health previously issued a ban on smoking in 28 types of public places, but it lacks the authority to enforce the ban.

Several cities have already passed smoking bans in public buildings, but enforcement of laws has also been problematic.

17 Dec 2013

Tobacco Industry Interference Index Article 5.3

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