Advertising may boost young adults’ use of electronic cigarettes, a new study finds.
Researchers assessed e-cigarette use among more than 4,200 young adults, aged 18 to 34, who were randomly selected to view or not view e-cigarette ads.
About 6 percent of those who had never before tried an e-cigarette had done so six months after the start of the study, researchers found. Among those who had never used regular cigarettes or e-cigarettes, almost 4 percent who were shown ads for e-cigarettes had tried the devices, compared with about 1 percent of those who weren’t shown ads.
Participants who saw e-cigarette ads were also more curious to try the battery-powered devices than those who didn’t see the ads — about 18 percent versus 11 percent, according to the researchers at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative, a nonprofit public health organization in Washington, D.C.
The study was published online Nov. 16 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
“Our study is the first randomized controlled study to show that forced exposure to e-cigarette advertising has an impact on longer-term e-cigarette trial in a small number of never users,” lead author Andrea Villanti said in a journal news release.
“These findings highlight the potential impact of unrestricted e-cigarette advertising to enhance curiosity and [use] of e-cigarettes in young adults,” Villanti added.
Prevalence of e-cigarette ads has increased rapidly since 2010. Since the devices are not subject to the same regulations as regular cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, they can be advertised on television and radio and through sponsorship of sporting and entertainment events, the study authors said.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about e-cigarettes.