New Survey by The George Institute for Global Health Advocates for Better Enforcement of Advertising Regulations to Reduce Online Exposure to E-Cigarettes
The George Institute for Global Health, in a cross-sectional online survey, has revealed an alarming rate of young people’s exposure to e-cigarette advertising in the popular media in countries like India, China, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
The survey assessed demographic characteristics, e-cigarette and tobacco use, the number of friends and family members who vape, and exposure to multiple forms of e-cigarette advertising. These included various modes of media exposure such as television, print, radio, and social media.
They found that a whopping 85% of respondents who had heard of e-cigarettes reported being exposed to e-cigarette advertising on at least one type of media platform. The average number of types of media to which the respondents were exposed was five.
"Despite advertising restrictions in place in all four countries, large majorities of young people reported being exposed to e-cigarette advertising. Social media and advertising in and around vape shops and other retailers appear to be key exposure locations. Urgent attention is needed to address these forms of exposure given their apparent association with e-cigarette use," Simone Pettigrew, The George Institute for Global Health, wrote.
The World Health Organization recommends banning all forms of e-cigarette advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. The George Institute for Global Health, too, considers the use of e-cigarettes by children, adolescents, and young adults a substantial public health concern. These e-cigarettes not only increase exposure to nicotine, leading to a greater risk of addiction.
The researchers contend that exposure to e-cigarette advertising can alter people's perceptions of the danger and risk involved and further pique their interest, leading to an increase in their propensity to use.
The online survey was administered to about 1000 people in each country, in the age bracket of 15–30 years, in India, China, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
The survey was 15 minutes long. The study received approval from a university human research ethics committee, and respondents provided informed consent.
Exposure to e-cigarette advertising among respondents who had heard of e-cigarettes was assessed across multiple questions, asking them about seeing various ads or promotions, and four options were given as responses.
Descriptive analyses were conducted on those who had heard of e-cigarettes, and a logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with e-cigarette use.
In online contexts, exposure was more common on social media platforms compared to other media alternatives. In real life, exposure was far more common around vape shops, supermarkets, petrol stations, and corner stores.
Moreover, current users were more likely to have been exposed to e-cigarette advertising compared to previous users or those who had not used it at all. This can further exacerbate their addiction.
The George Institute says that after controlling for demographic, social, and tobacco use factors identified in previous research as being associated with e-cigarette use status, the number of media types via which respondents had been exposed to e-cigarette advertising was significantly associated with e-cigarette use.
This is consistent with previous research highlighting a link between e-cigarette advertising exposure and susceptibility to the use of such products. This research should be an impetus to pave the way for more stringent enforcement of advertising regulations across all forms of media.
The full study can be accessed here – https://doi.org/10.18332/tid/172414