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Exposure to tobacco marketing in bars predicts subsequent use of multiple tobacco products among non-tobacco-using college students
  1. Ana Laura Herrera1,
  2. Keryn E Pasch1,
  3. C Nathan Marti1,
  4. Alexandra Loukas1,
  5. Cheryl Perry2
  1. 1 Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  2. 2 Department of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health in Austin, Austin, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Keryn E Pasch, Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA; kpasch{at}


Background Due to other marketing restrictions, one venue where tobacco companies concentrate their marketing efforts to reach young adults is bars/nightclubs.

Objective This study examined the relationship between exposure to tobacco marketing in bars/nightclubs and number of alternative tobacco/nicotine products used 6 months later among college students.

Methods Participants were 1,406 students aged 18–29 years old who reported going to bars or nightclubs at least rarely (M age=21.95; 67% female; 46% non-Hispanic white). Students completed an online survey in fall 2014/spring 2015 (wave 1) and again 6 months later (wave 2). Multilevel Poisson regression models were used to assess the relationship between exposure to three types of marketing at bars/nightclubs at wave 1 (tobacco/nicotine product advertisements; free samples; industry representatives) and number of tobacco products used (range=0–5) at wave 2, controlling for school type (2 year vs 4 year), age, sex, race/ethnicity and frequency of bar visits. An interaction between the number of wave 1 products and each marketing variable was tested.

Results Greater exposure to free samples and tobacco industry representatives at bars/nightclubs predicted a greater number of products used 6 months later, but only among wave 1 non-tobacco users and not among tobacco users. Exposure to advertisements at bars/nightclubs did not predict the number of products used 6 months later.

Conclusion Tobacco companies claim that marketing is targeted to those who already use the product, not to non-users. However, the current study indicates tobacco marketing in bars and nightclubs may encourage use among non-users and has no influence on current users.

  • young adults
  • marketing
  • bars
  • nightclubs

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  • Contributors All authors (ALH, KEP, CNM, AL and CP) have contributed significantly to this work, have seen the contents of the manuscript and agreed to its submission.

  • Funding Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute (grant number 1 P50 CA180906) and the FDA Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).

  • Disclaimer The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH or the Food and Drug Administration.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval All study protocols and procedures were approved by the University of Texas at Austin Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement No data are available.