Marketing Electronic Cigarettes
A 2014 review said, "the e cigarette companies have been rapidly expanding using aggressive marketing messages similar to those used to promote cigarettes in the 1950s and 1960s." E cigarettes and nicotine are regularly promoted as safe and beneficial in the media and on brand websites. While advertising of tobacco products is banned in most countries, television and radio e cigarette advertising in some countries may be indirectly encouraging traditional cigarette smoking. There is no evidence that the cigarette brands are selling e cigarettes as part of a plan to phase out traditional cigarettes, despite some claiming to want to cooperate in "harm reduction". In the US, six large e cigarette businesses spent $59.3 million on promoting e cigarettes in 2013. Easily-circumvented age verification at company websites enables young people to access and be exposed to marketing for e cigarettes.
A national US television advertising campaign starred Steven Dorff exhaling a "thick plume" of what the ad describes as "vapor, not tobacco smoke", exhorting smokers with the message "We are all adults here, it's time to take our freedom back." The ads, in a context of longstanding prohibition of tobacco advertising on TV, were criticized by organizations such as Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as undermining anti-tobacco efforts. Cynthia Hallett of Americans for Non-Smokers' Rights described the US advertising campaign as attempting to "re-establish a norm that smoking is okay, that smoking is glamorous and acceptable". University of Pennsylvania communications professor Joseph Cappella stated that the setting of the ad near an ocean was meant to suggest an association of clean air with the nicotine product. In 2012 and 2013, e cigarette companies advertised to a large television audience in the US which included 24 million youth. The channels on which e cigarette advertising reached the largest numbers of youth (ages 12-17) were AMC, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, WGN America, TV Land, and VH1.
A 2014 review said e cigarettes are aggressively promoted, mostly via the internet, as a healthy alternative to smoking in the US. Celebrity endorsements are used to encourage e cigarette use. "Big tobacco" markets e cigarettes to young people Industry strategies include cartoon characters and candy flavors to sell e cigarettes. E cigarette companies commonly promote that their products contain only water, nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol, and flavoring but this assertion is misleading as scientists have found differing amounts of heavy metals in the vapor, including chromium, nickel, tin, silver, cadmium, mercury, and aluminum. The popular assertion that e cigarette emit "only water vapor" is false because the evidence indicates e cigarette vapor contains possibly harmful chemicals such as nicotine, carbonyls, metals, and organic volatile compounds, in addition to particulates.
Electronic Cigarette Economics
As of 2014 the number of e cigarettes sold has increased every year. But in both the US and UK the growth in usage seemed to have slowed in 2015. As of 2014 there were at least 466 e cigarette companies. Worldwide e cigarette sales in 2014 were around US$7 billion. In the US, "big tobacco" has a significant share of the e cigarette market, and they are the major producers.
Tobacco manufacturers dismissed e cigarettes as a fad at first; but the purchase of the US brand blu e cigs by US tobacco manufacturer Lorillard for $135 million in April 2012 signaled their entry into the market. "Big tobacco" companies have bought some e cigarette businesses and greatly increased their marketing efforts. As of 2015 e cigarette devices are mostly made in China. In the US there are more than a hundred small e cigarette businesses, with about 70% of the market held by 10 businesses. A sizable share of the e cigarette business is done on the internet. The majority of e cigarette businesses have their own homepage and approximately 30–50% of total e cigarettes sales are handled on the internet in respect to English-language websites.
According to Nielsen Holdings, convenience store e cigarette sales in the US went down for the first time during the four-week period ending on 10 May 2014. Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog attributes this decline to a shift in consumers' behavior, buying more specialized devices or what she calls "vapor/tank/mods (VTMs)" that are not tracked by Nielsen. According to Herzog these products, produced and sold by standalone makers are now (2014) growing twice as fast as traditional electronic cigarettes marketed by the major players (Lorillard, Logic Technology, NJOY etc...) and account for a third of the 2.2 billion dollar market in the US for vapor products. There are around a thousand e cigarette retail shops in California.
Canada is an expanding market for e cigarettes. There are numerous e cigarette retail shops in Canada. The company Smoke NV is the leading seller of e cigarette products in Canada.
The UK is a growing market for e cigarettes. The main e cigarette businesses in the UK are British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Nicocigs, and Vivid Vapours. British American Tobacco was the first tobacco business to sell e cigarettes in the UK. They launched the e cigarette Vype in July 2013. Philip Morris, the world’s largest tobacco firm, purchased UK’s Nicocigs in June 2014. As of March 2014 the top selling e cigarette brands in the UK at independent convenience stores are Nicolites and Vivid Vapours.
France is a growing market for e cigarettes, which is said to be about €100 million (£85 million) in sales as of 2013. There are about 150 e cigarette retail shops there