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Electronic cigarette advertising draws former smokers back to habit: Aust'n study

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-08-02 14:54

New research suggesting that electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, advertising could drive a former smoker back to the habit has prompted calls to ban the advertising.

Dr Sarah White, director of Quit Victoria, said that failing to restrict e-cigarette advertising to the same extent as regular cigarette advertising could undo the hard work done to alert the public to the dangers of smoking.

"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," White told News Limited on Tuesday.

"We have lost hundreds of thousands of lives 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."

The latest research, undertaken by the Cancer Council of Australia, surveyed 800 former smokers who were showed e-cigarette advertisements that have screened on television or online.

Results, published in the Tobacco Regulatory Science, found that the advertisements were twice as effective on participants than advertisements for any other products with a quarter of participants feeling an "urge" to smoke.

Associate Professor Sarah Durkin, lead author of the study, said that e-cigarette advertisements are using similar tactics as illegal tobacco ads such as suggesting using the product increase a person's social status and romantic appeal.

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

"What is concerning is the e-cigarette ads also remind former smokers of smoking tobacco cigarettes, increase their desire to smoke tobacco cigarettes and reduce their confidence to abstain."

All forms of tobacco advertising in Australia have been illegal since 1992, including the sponsorship of events by tobacco companies.

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