New research indicates that television advertisements for electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) could increase the urge for both current and former smokers to smoke tobacco cigarettes. The findings appear in the journal Health Communication.
Erin K. Maloney, PhD, and Joseph N. Cappella, PhD, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication in Philadelphia, PA, recruited 301 daily smokers, 272 intermittent smokers, and 311 former smokers for the study. The participants were randomly assigned to view three e-cigarette advertisements with vaping visuals (a person inhaling or holding an e-cigarette, cue condition), without vaping visuals (non-cue condition), or to answer unrelated media use questions (no-ad condition). A post-test was then administered to assess urge to smoke and smoking behavior, as well as self-efficacy, attitudes, and intentions to quit or abstain from smoking.
Former smokers who viewed the cue condition expressed a reduced confidence that they could refrain from smoking tobacco cigarettes compared to former smokers viewing the non-cue or no-ad conditions. Daily smokers viewing the cue condition reported a greater urge to smoke a tobacco cigarette and a marginally significantly greater incidence of actually smoking a tobacco cigarette during the study (35% vs. 22% and 23% in the non-cue and no-ad conditions, respectively). In the cue condition, former smokers indicated lower intentions to abstain from smoking vs. former smokers in the non-cue and no-ad conditions. No significant differences were observed among intermittent smokers across all conditions.
Teresa Thompson, PhD, editor of Health Communication, added that these results are particularly relevant to ongoing health and policy discussions regarding e-cigarette advertising and its effect on current or former smokers.
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