Impact of advertisements promoting candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes on appeal of tobacco smoking among children: an experimental study
- Correspondence to Professor Theresa M Marteau, Behaviour and Health Research Unit, University of Cambridge, Forvie Site, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge CB2 0SR, UK;
- Received 14 July 2015
- Revised 25 November 2015
- Accepted 12 December 2015
- Published Online First 17 January 2016
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.
This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/