SOURCE: Health Communication, news release, March 12, 2015
MONDAY, March 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Television ads for e-cigarettes trigger cravings for cigarettes in current and former smokers, a new study found.
The study included more than 800 daily, occasional and former smokers who watched e-cigarette ads and then completed a survey to assess their smoking urges, intentions and behaviors.
Regular smokers who saw ads with people using e-cigarettes (vaping) had a greater urge to smoke than regular smokers who did not see the ads, the study found. And former smokers who saw e-cigarette ads were less confident that they could stay away from cigarettes than those who did not see e-cigarette ads.
The study was published online March 11 in the journal Health Communication.
"We know that exposure to smoking cues such as visual depictions of cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, lighters, and smoke heightens smokers' urge to smoke a cigarette, and decreases former smokers' confidence in their ability to refrain from smoking a cigarette," study author Erin Maloney, a research director at the University of Pennsylvania Annenberg School for Communication, said in a journal news release.
"Because many e-cigarette brands that have a budget to advertise on television are visually similar to tobacco cigarettes, we wanted to see if similar effects can be attributed to e-cigarette advertising," Maloney added.
It's estimated that e-cigarette companies will spend more than $1 billion on advertising this year, and that amount is expected to increase 50 percent over the next four years, the study authors said.
"Given the sophistication of cigarette marketing in the past and the exponential increase in advertising dollars allotted to e-cigarette promotion in the past year, it should be expected that advertisements for these products created by big tobacco companies will maximize smoking cues in their advertisements, and if not regulated, individuals will be exposed to much more e-cigarette advertising on a daily basis," the study authors wrote.
Teresa Thompson, a professor at the University of Dayton and journal editor, said in the news release, "These findings are especially relevant to ongoing health and policy discussions, as they indicate that it is not just the health impact of e-cigs and vaping themselves that must be considered."
E-cigarettes, also known as electronic cigarettes, are battery-operated devices designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn chemicals, including highly addictive nicotine, into an aerosol that is inhaled by the user, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
As part of its implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, the FDA has proposed extending the agency's tobacco authority to cover additional tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about e-cigarettes.