NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Increased competition in the electronic cigarette market could lead to an explosion of advertising for the product bringing nicotine back to the public consciousness in full force.
R.J. Reynolds ( RAI) said earlier this month that it would expand its Vuse electronic cigarette brand nationally, making it the second of the three big tobacco companies -- Lorillard ( LO) and Altria ( MO) -- to make a serious national push into e-cigarettes.
Lorillard was the first national player in e-cigarettes when it acquired Blu eCigs in 2012 for $135 million, and now commands close to 40% of current market share.
The expansion into e-cigarettes could ignite an advertising battle between Reynolds, Lorillard, and Altria as all three fight to capture market share in the burgeoning vaporized cigarette industry. Earlier this year a study was published by the journal Pediatrics, showing that between 2011 and 2013 exposure to e-cigarette TV ads increased by 256% among adolescents ages 12 to 17 and by 321% among young adults, ages 18 to 24.
The advertising most often appeared on broadcast network programs that were among the 100 highest rated youth programs for the 2012-2013 TV season. In one commercial, the stunning actress Jenny McCarthy discusses how she enjoys e-cigarettes because they are more "satisfying" than traditional tobacco based cigarettes.
Lorillard's Blu eCigs accounted for almost 82% of all nationally aired e-cigarette ads viewed by 12- to 17-year-olds, the study said.
Jennifer Duke, lead author of the study and a public health researcher at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., was unavailable to comment on how increased competition in the e-cigarette space may lead to more advertising dollars spent on the product. In an effort to show how competition could lead to more exposure of e-cigarettes, a classic lesson from microeconomic theory on imperfect competition suffices.