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Impact of advertisements promoting candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes on appeal of tobacco smoking among children: an experimental study
  1. Milica Vasiljevic,
  2. Dragos C Petrescu,
  3. Theresa M Marteau
  1. Behaviour and Health Research Unit, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Theresa M Marteau, Behaviour and Health Research Unit, University of Cambridge, Forvie Site, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK; tm388{at}cam.ac.uk

Abstract

Background There are concerns that the marketing of e-cigarettes may increase the appeal of tobacco smoking in children. We examined this concern by assessing the impact on appeal of tobacco smoking after exposure to advertisements for e-cigarettes with and without candy-like flavours, such as, bubble gum and milk chocolate.

Methods We assigned 598 English school children (aged 11–16 years) to 1 of 3 different conditions corresponding to the adverts to which they were exposed: adverts for flavoured e-cigarettes, adverts for non-flavoured e-cigarettes or a control condition in which no adverts were shown. The primary endpoint was appeal of tobacco smoking. Secondary endpoints were: appeal of using e-cigarettes, susceptibility to tobacco smoking, perceived harm of tobacco, appeal of e-cigarette adverts and interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes.

Results Tobacco smokers and e-cigarette users were excluded from analyses (final sample=471). Exposure to either set of adverts did not increase the appeal of tobacco smoking, the appeal of using e-cigarettes, or susceptibility to tobacco smoking. Also, it did not reduce the perceived harm of tobacco smoking, which was high. Flavoured e-cigarette adverts were, however, more appealing than adverts for non-flavoured e-cigarettes and elicited greater interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes.

Conclusions Exposure to adverts for e-cigarettes does not seem to increase the appeal of tobacco smoking in children. Flavoured, compared with non-flavoured, e-cigarette adverts did, however, elicit greater appeal and interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes. Further studies extending the current research are needed to elucidate the impact of flavoured and non-flavoured e-cigarette adverts.

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