Cambridge Study: Flavored E-Cigarette Ads Don’t Tempt Kids To Smoke

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A study from Cambridge University has found no evidence that e-cigarettes increase the appeal of tobacco to children and no data supporting the theory that vaping renormalizes smoking.

The research team examined 598 English high school students aged 11-14 to find out whether e-cigarette marketing increased the appeal tobacco to kids.

The study assessed changes in children’s attitudes after they were exposed to e-cigarette ads and whether they wanted to try tobacco smoking, experiment with e-cigarettes or shifted their opinion of how dangerous regular cigarettes are.

Children who were already smokers or vapers were removed from the study, resulting in a sample group of 470. These children were divided into three groups. One was shown flavored e-cig ads, another was exposed to non-flavored e-cig ads and the control group saw no advertising at all.

None of the children were asked how appealing they found either e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes before they were exposed to marketing materials. The authors found the allure of both tobacco and e-cigarettes remained extremely low in all three groups at the end of the experiment.

“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,” said the authors. Furthermore, the children still perceived tobacco smoke as extremely harmful.

“We found no evidence that exposing English children aged 11–16 years to adverts for candy-like flavored and non-flavoured e-cigarettes increased the low appeal of smoking tobacco, the low appeal of using e-cigarettes, or low susceptibility to tobacco smoking. Nor did it reduce the high perceived harm of tobacco smoking,” the study concluded. (RELATED: Study Contradicts CDC Director: E-Cigarette Ads Are Not Related To Teen Vaping)

In a blow to some of the public health community’s staunchest e-cigarette opponents, the data from the study also found “no support for the renormalisation hypothesis since exposure to e-cigarette adverts did not increase the appeal of tobacco smoking in this sample of children.”

Some of the most militant opponents of vaping have claimed e-cigarettes contribute to the “renormalization of other tobacco products.” (RELATED: Fact Check: Rahm Emanuel’s Spin Fueled Campaign Against E-Cigarettes)

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