Yesterday, I criticized a recently announced French policy that would ban vaping in public places. Today, I address a different aspect of the proposal: a ban on the advertising of electronic cigarettes.
According to the health minister, not only will vaping in public places be banned, but so will the advertising of electronic cigarettes. The new regulations include a "blackout on media advertising" of electronic cigarettes. Thus, the government will extend its current ban on tobacco advertising on television, radio, the internet, and print media to electronic cigarettes.
The Rest of the Story
By placing a ban on the advertising of electronic cigarettes, the French government is saying that it wants to put electronic cigarettes at a disadvantage in terms of recruiting customers. In other words, France is going to take an extreme, intrusive measure to protect tobacco profits. Obviously, this measure is going to reduce electronic cigarette use. Apparently, the French government would rather that people use real cigarettes that kill them instead of fake ones that cause little recognized harm and help thousands of French smokers to quit smoking and save their lives.
The most unfortunate part of this story to me is that anti-smoking advocates are supporting this measure. For example, Stan Glantz expressed his support for both aspects of the French policy on his blog. While I disagree with Stan's support of a ban on vaping in public places because there simply is no existing evidence that vaping poses a significant harm to bystanders, I can at least understand his position. However, I do not understand his support for a complete ban on the advertising of electronic cigarettes.
There is simply no valid basis to ban the advertising of electronic cigarettes at the current time. How anti-smoking advocates can place these devices in the same category as tobacco cigarettes is beyond me. With all due respect, this policy is going to result in increased disease and death. It is going to reduce the sales of electronic cigarettes and increase the consumption of tobacco cigarettes. What is the rationale for anti-smoking advocates to support a measure that is going to significantly harm the public's health?