Introduction Exposure to electronic cigarette (EC) marketing is associated with EC use, particularly among youth. In England, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) regulate EC marketing to reduce appeal to youth; however, there are little published data on EC marketing claims used online. This study therefore provides an overview of marketing claims present on the websites of EC brands popular in England.
Methods From January to February 2022, a content analysis of 10 of England’s most popular EC brand websites was conducted, including violation of CAP codes.
Results Of the 10 websites, all presented ECs as an alternative to smoking, 8 as a smoking cessation aid and 6 as less harmful than smoking. Four websites presented ECs as risk-free. All mentioned product quality, modernity, convenience, sensory experiences and vendor promotions. Nine featured claims about flavours, colours, customisability and nicotine salts. Seven featured claims concerning social benefits, personal identity, sustainability, secondhand smoke and nicotine strength. Six featured claims about fire safety. Some claimed ECs are cheaper than tobacco (n=5), cited health professionals (n=4) or featured collaborations with brands/icons (n=4). All were assessed by the research team to violate one or more CAP code(s) by featuring medicinal claims (n=8), contents which may appeal to non-smokers (n=7), associations with youth culture (n=6), depictions of youth using ECs (n=6) or media targeting youth (n=5).
Conclusion Among 10 top EC brand websites in England, marketing elements that might appeal to youth were commonly identified and CAP code compliance was low.
- Electronic nicotine delivery devices
- Public policy
- Advertising and Promotion
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request.
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Presented at This research was presented as an e-poster at the European Conference on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies.
Contributors MKN—guarantor; investigation, writing (original draft) and formal analysis. EVT—conceptualisation, methodology, supervision, funding acquisition and writing (review and editing). AM—conceptualisation, supervision, funding acquisition and writing (review and editing). YK—investigation and data curation. NS—investigation and data curation. DH—writing (review and editing), conceptualisation and funding acquisition. ES—writing (review and editing). DA—writing (review and editing). KE—methodology, writing (review and editing), supervision, data curation, project administration and funding acquisition.
Funding This project was funded by Cancer Research UK (PPRCTAGPJT\100008). KE is the recipient of fellowship funding from the UK Society for the Study of Addiction (SSA). EVT is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Exposures and Health, a partnership between the UK Health Security Agency and Imperial College London.
Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR, UK Health Security Agency or the Department of Health and Social Care.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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