The advertising of traditional cigarettes has undergone many restrictions over the years and nowadays is almost entirely banned everywhere. Perhaps the most difficult challenge that the tobacco companies had to deal with when it comes to marketing their products was the complete ban of television advertising of cigarettes in the USA some four decades ago.
As previously discussed, big tobacco companies are now focusing their efforts on marketing e-cigarettes, the use and advertising of which are still largely unregulated, since they are for the time being considered by many to be a healthier alternative to using traditional tobacco products. This has led to a spike in e-cigarette marketing campaigns, in which cigarette manufacturers have invested hefty sums.
The results of a new study are revealing as to why this was a smart move on behalf of the cigarette producers, since they indicate that by watching vaping commercials, former and current smokers may experience an increase in craving to smoke conventional cigarettes.
The study was carried out by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, who recruited more than 800 daily, intermittent, and former smokers who watched e-cigarette advertising, and then took a survey to determine their smoking urges, intentions, and behaviors.
According to the findings of the study, regular smokers of traditional cigarettes showed a greater desire to smoke after watching the vaping commercial, while former smokers who watched the e-cigarette advertisements reported that they had less confidence that they could refrain from smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Experts point out that this is due to the visual similarity of e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes and that exposure to visual depictions of cigarettes and other related items such as ashtrays and lighters heightens a smoker’s urge to smoke. This in turn explains why the big tobacco companies expect that e-cigarette advertising will pay off and why they invest so heavily in it.
This study was recently published in the Health Communication journal and its researchers concluded that: “Given the sophistication of cigarette marketing in the past and the exponential increase in advertising dollars allotted to e-cigarette promotion in the past year, it should be expected that advertisements for these products created by big tobacco companies will maximize smoking cues in their advertisements, and if not regulated, individuals will be exposed to much more e-cigarette advertising on a daily basis.”