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E-cigarette brands make unvalidated claims their product helps people quit smoking

image001-1Most leading e-cigarette brands use cessation themes in their ads to imply that their products help consumers quit smoking, according to a Stanford study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

"A huge number of e-cigarette companies do this," said Robert Jackler, MD, senior author of the study and co-founder of Stanford Research Into The Impact of Tobacco Advertising. "They do it in clever and implicit ways. They imply that yes, 'they work,' but won’t say what they work for exactly."

Researchers examined the content of advertising by e-cigarette brands on company-sponsored social media channels and blogs and user testimonials appearing within brand-sponsored websites.

Results showed that among leading e-cigarette brands, 22 of 23 used cessation-themed advertisements. Overall, 23 percent of the advertisements contained cessation claims of which 18 percent were explicit and 82 percent implicit, the study said.

A press release issued by the journal quotes the authors of the study:

'Given the lack of scientific evidence regarding cessation efficacy, there is no rational basis for e-cigarette brands to assert cessation efficacy when advertising their products,' the authors explain. 'It is conceivable that future technical advances and chemical modifications may achieve nicotine delivery similar to combustible cigarettes. If and when a specific e-cigarette brand can present data supporting its efficacy as a cessation device, the product should be subject to FDA regulation as a drug, device, or combination product requiring prior approval.'

Previously: Stanford experts skeptical about motives behind e-cigarette health warnings, How e-cigarettes are sparking a new wave of tobacco marketing and E-cigarettes and the FDA: A conversation with a tobacco-marketing researcher
Cessation-themed ad courtesy of Robert Jackler

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