Washington DC - The public health community should be celebrating the fact that e-cigarettes are being advertised during the Super Bowl -- but anti-tobacco activist groups want the FDA to throw a yellow flag against the ads.
"These activists are committing a foul," says Jeff Stier, director of the Risk Analysis Division of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "The private sector is paying for the most expensive commercials on television - and these ads will help smokers quit. Contrast these effective, privately funded stop-smoking ads with the government sponsored commercials which do little to help smokers."
The Wall Street Journal reported in December that #2 e-cigarette maker NJOY is planning to spend over $30 million in marketing in 2014, with a "lion's share" of it being for television.
"Activist groups like the American Lung Association, which are adamantlyopposed to e-cigarettes, have called upon the FDA to ban the NJOY ad and similar ads," says Stier. "Why would the American Lung Association, whose purpose, one would think, is to reduce smoking, be opposed to smoke-free e-cigarettes? Because, they argue, some e-cigarettes look like the real thing."
"That's nonsense. That some e-cigarettes look like cigarettes is actually what makes them so appealing to smokers. If it were up to activist groups, alternatives to cigarette smoking would be entirely unappealing. That means they'd be entirely ineffective," Stier adds.
"Those who care about public health should be rejoicing that the private sector is not only placing anti-smoking advertising on the country's largest stage, but that the ad actually offers smokers an appealing alternative to smoking. Many smokers complain that the gum and patch, which are promoted by government funded anti-smoking campaigns, are not satisfying. However e-cigarettes, which, like the gum and patch, deliver nicotine, also give those trying to quit a more similar experience to the habit of smoking. This may explain why so many former smokers failed to quit smoking with government-endorsed solutions, but are now succeeding with e-cigarettes," says Stier.
"E-cigarettes are a product created by profit-driven private sector innovation that is doing what many hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending, costly litigation, addictive excise taxes, warning labels and punitive regulations have been unable to do: help cigarette smokers quit happily. And activists don't want smokers to know about them," Stier concludes.
Jeff Stier has written about the issue for papers around the country (the Des Moines Register here and New York Post here), testified in person and in writing before city and state legislative bodies (New York City Councilhere and Oklahoma legislature here) and has met with Administration officials about the health benefits of e-cigarettes. He also is a regular guest on radio and television talk shows.
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