E-cigarette ads bring smoking back to US television - but for how long?

Smoke gets in your eyes . . . Vuse on TV.

The big tobacco companies are roaring back into the ad market in America. On television and in magazines, ads for e-cigarettes are being rolled out one after the other .

Reynolds American, the second-largest tobacco company in the U.S. and makers of Camel, is running its first TV advertising in 40 years next month , when it starts running a commercial in Colorado for its new e-cigarette Vuse. A spokesman for Reynolds told the Drum this was the first step in a national rollout but said he "could not speculate" on an international launch.

There is a big cloud on the horizon, however. The US Food and Drug Administration is likely propose a ban on TV advertising for e-cigs, according to a report this week from the financial services group CLSA Americas.

The Vuse ad, created by London-based Chi and Partners - seen below - strikes a decidedly different tone from other e-cigarette TV ads, says AdAge.

"Instead of celebrities and popular music associated with smoking's heyday, the ad draws upon the technology behind the product, resembling work from a cellphone marketer more than a tobacco seller".

David Howard, a spokesman for Reynolds American, said of the commercial , "It's about innovation. There are no celebrities and no shots of people using it. The product is the celebrity."

Sales of e-cigarettes have zoomed in recent years. They hit $500 million in 2012, according to industry estimates . So far this year, e-cig sales have roughly doubled from 2012, said Bonnie Herzog, managing director and senior beverage and tobacco analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, in a press release from e-cigarette maker V2.

Sales are projected to reach $1.7 billion by the end of 2103, she added, with e-cigarette consumption likely to pass traditional cigarettes in the next decade.

Data today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the percentage of U.S. middle and high school students using e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012 - from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10.0 percent in .

The e-cigarette market in the US is currently unregulated, which allows for the moment Big Tobacco's return to TV after more than 40 years.

In the UK advertising of e-cigarettes is unrestricted at the moment but there are proposals to regulate them as a medicine from 2016, said a spokesman for the Medicine and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency. When the new rules come into force, it will be not possible to market e-cigarettes to under-16s. They are regarded as "medicines".

E-cigarette makers in America have said they plan to continue marketing their product across a range of media unless and until a ban is introduced.

"In lieu of regulations, we will look at all mediums -- including TV, print, radio, point of sale and direct mail -- to communicate with adult smokers," Howard, of Reynolds American, told Ad Age .

Meanwhile, Lorillard's Blu e-cigarette, with nearly 40% of the market share, introduced a TV and web campaign this summer with actress Jenny McCarthy - smoking an e-cigarette.

The FDA is expected to issue a proposed rule in October that would let it regulate e-cigarettes. The proposal will then be open for public comments, a process that will probably last for months.

Likely moves apart from the ad curb: a ban on sales to minors , warning labels and possibly a ban on online sales, projected to reach between $500 to $625 million in the US this year.

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