CDC’s Latest Anti-Smoking Ads Now Target Vaping, Too

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long railed against cigarette smoking and tobacco companies. But with their latest ad campaign, the CDC is now targeting something else: electronic cigarettes and vaporizers.

The print and radio ads mark the first time that e-cigarettes have been mentioned in an anti-smoking ad, much to the ire of the vaping industry.

As part of the “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign, which started in 2012, one of the spots features a woman named Kristy alongside a caption that says, “I started using e-cigarettes but kept smoking. Right up until my lung collapsed.”

Remaining ads for the campaign, which will run for 20 weeks and cost $50 million, will focus on traditional cigarettes instead.

However, Tim McAfee, senior medical officer at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, draws a distinction between using e-cigs alone (also known as vaping) or in conjunction with smoking. “Our core message is cutting down [on smoking] is not sufficient,” he said, as opposed to quitting entirely.

In 2014, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a peer-reviewed publication, published a study that estimated that three out of four people who use e-cigarettes haven’t quit smoking. Health officials also say that e-cigarette marketing could entice children and teens to vape.

Yet proponents of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers, which are smokeless devices, often say that this isn’t true. E-cigarettes are commonly used to help smokers quit.

A focus on e-cigarettes could also harm small businesses. According to the Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association, there are around 16,000 vape shops in the United States, many of which are small businesses that specialize in selling unique vaporizers and custom blends of e-liquid.

This isn’t the first time a government agency has targeted e-cigarettes. Last week, the state government in California launched a $7 million media campaign against vaping.

The TV, online and outdoor ads refer to e-cigarettes as “brought to you by the people who brought you lung cancer.” Two months prior to the ads, California health officials named e-cigarettes as a health risk.

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