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TV Advertising Ban Likely Coming for E-Cigarettes

SILVER SPRING, Md. -- Electronic cigarette companies have been making good use of television advertising to market their products -- an advantage traditional cigarette companies no longer have. But things could change when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hands down regulations for e-cigarettes.

According to Ad Age, a new report from the financial services group CLSA Americas LLC said the regulatory agency will likely propose a ban on TV advertising for e-cigarettes when it issues proposed regulations next month.

A ban would curb a new source of revenue for TV networks, where spending on e-cigarette commercials climbed 17.9 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to a Citibank report earlier this year. That same report showed print ad spending among e-cigarette marketers increased 71.9 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Several electronic cigarette brands are currently running TV spots. Lorillard Inc. was the first to take to the medium with its blu eCigs "Rise from the Ashes" campaign starring actor Stephen Dorff, which debuted in the fall. The company recently launched a new campaign featuring actress and TV personality Jenny McCarthy, as CSNews Online previously reported.

Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) has also returned to the airwaves with commercials for its new electronic cigarette, Vuse, which hit the Colorado market this summer.

"In lieu of regulations, we will look at all mediums -- including TV, print, radio, point-of-sale and direct mail -- to communicate with adult smokers," David Howard, a spokesman for RAI, told Ad Age last week as the company prepared to roll out its TV campaign in Colorado.

In addition, NJOY and Fin have also been running TV commercials.

Jenny Haliski, a spokeswoman for the FDA, told Ad Age the organization cannot comment on the contents of the proposed rule. "The FDA intends to propose a regulation that would extend the agency's 'tobacco product' authorities -- which currently only apply to cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco -- to other categories of tobacco products that meet the statutory definition of 'tobacco product,'" Haliski said in an email.

"Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products," she concluded.

The CLSA report predicted other likely proposals from the FDA on e-cigarettes will include a ban on sales to minors and potentially the requirement of a warning label. The FDA may also restrict online sales.

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