Electronic Cigarette Advertising Impacts Adversely on Smoking Behaviour Within a London Student Cohort: A Cross-Sectional Structured Survey.
Lung. 2019 Aug 28. Epub 2019 Aug 28. PMID: 31463548
INTRODUCTION: In contrast to tobacco smoking, electronic cigarette ("vaping") advertisement had been approved in the United Kingdom (UK) in January 2013. Currently, there are an estimated 3.2 million UK e-cigarette users. The impact of e-cigarette advertisement on tobacco use has not been studied in detail. We hypothesised that e-cigarette advertisement impacts on conventional smoking behaviour.
METHODS: A cross-sectional structured survey assessed the impact of e-cigarette advertising on the perceived social acceptability of cigarette and e-cigarette smoking and on using either cigarettes or e-cigarettes (on a scale of 1 to 5/'not at all' to 'a lot'). The survey was administered between January to March 2015 to London university students, before and after viewing 5 UK adverts including a TV commercial.
RESULTS: Data were collected from 106 participants (22 ± 2 years, 66% male), comprising cigarette smokers (32%), non-smokers (54%) and ex-smokers (14%). This included vapers (16%), non-vapers (77%) and ex-vapers (7%). After viewing the adverts, smokers (2.6 ± 1.0 vs. 3.8 ± 1.1, p = 0.001) and non-smokers (3.2 ± 0.7 vs. 3.7 ± 0.8, p = 0.007) felt smoking was more socially acceptable, compared to before viewing them. Participants were more likely to try both e-cigarettes (1.90 ± 1.03 to 3.09 ± 1.11, p < 0.001) and conventional cigarettes (1.73 ± 0.83 to 2.27 ± 1.13, p < 0.001) after viewing the adverts compared to before. Vapers were less likely to smoke both an e-cigarette, and a conventional cigarette after viewing the adverts.
CONCLUSION: E-cigarette advertising encourages both e-cigarette and conventional cigarette use in young smokers and non-smokers. The adverts increase the social acceptability of smoking without regarding the importance of public health campaigns that champion smoking cessation.