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E-cigarette advertisements are luring ex-smokers back to tobacco, warns Quit Victoria

Cancer Council research has shown the ads harm attempts to quit.

E-CIGARETTE advertising has the power to drive former smokers back to real cigarettes, new research has suggested.

While debate rages about whether the battery-powered cigarettes are a safe or effective way to quit smoking, a study of 800 former smokers has found advertising for the products had the opposite effect.

Findings of the Cancer Council study have prompted calls to ban e-cigarette promotions in the same way tobacco advertising was restricted decades ago.

Quit Victoria director Dr Sarah White said failing to ban e-cigarette advertising could undermine the resolve of former smokers as well as decades of gains since tobacco advertising was outlawed.

“Some of these ads look very much like people using a cigarette, (and) probably just watching people using that ¬motion doesn’t help former smokers suppress their urges,” she said.

E-cig ads can trigger ex-smoker’s urges, health authorities fear.

“We have lost hundreds of thousands of people to cigarettes, we have spent tens of millions of dollars trying to help people get off cigarettes that kill two out of three people, we have legislation in place to help people get off cigarettes, so we need to keep watch we are not letting something else come through that plays on the similarities.”

After showing 800 former smokers e-cigarette advertisements that had screened on television or online, the Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer found their desire to start smoking normal cigarettes ¬returned, as did an urge to use e-cigarettes.

Results published in the journal Tobacco Regulatory Science showed twice as many former smokers felt a desire to smoke after watching the ads compared to those who viewed promotions for other products, while a quarter felt an “urge” to use tobacco.

Lead author, Associate Professor Sarah Durkin, said the e-cigarette ads were also found to adopt the same techniques as long outlawed tobacco ads, suggesting the products ¬increase a person’s social status and ¬romantic appeal, and portray users as “independent and ¬rebellious”.

“The e-cigarette finding is unsurprising, since the aim of these ads is to encourage people to use e-cigarettes,” she said.

“What is concerning is the e-cigarette ads also reminded former smokers of smoking ¬tobacco cigarettes, increased their desire to smoke tobacco cigarettes and reduced their confidence to abstain.”

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