First it was BP’s subliminal cigarettes, and now it’s ads promoting e-cigarettes so tasty we almost want to start smoking.
According to new research from the University of Cambridge for the Department of Health, there are concerns that advertisements depicting chocolate and bubble gum-flavoured e-cigs could entice kids to try vaping.
With reports in the US already showing a huge surge in e-cigarette sales, with marketers reaching nearly 70 per cent of teens in the country, it’s no wonder this new tactic is raising alarm bells.
The research has examined the possibility that adolescents taking up vaping could in turn lead to tobacco smoking, with the results suggesting schoolchildren shown ads for lolly-flavoured e-cigarettes expressed greater interest in buying and trying them than their peers.
It’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes and e-liquids to under-18s in the UK, but their use rose from five per cent in 2013 to eight per cent in 2014.
“We’re cautiously optimistic from our results that e-cigarette ads don’t make tobacco smoking more attractive, but we’re concerned that ads for e-cigarettes with flavours that might appeal to school children could encourage them to try the products,” the University of Cambridge department of public health and primary care’s Milica Vasiljevic said.
The researchers said lolly and liqueur-flavoured tobacco products were heavily marketed towards young people from the 1970s to 2009, when they got slapped with regulations that stopped this kind of marketing.
E-cigarettes are now being advertised in about 8000 flavours.
The researchers said the study supported moves for greater regulation of advertising for e-cigarettes, including rules that ads must not be likely to appeal to under-18s.
The Committee on Advertising Practice has issued new rules concerning the advertising of e-cigarettes, however these do not include explicit prohibitions on lolly-like flavours.
“The results of the current study support the imminent changes in EU regulations surrounding the marketing of e-cigarettes, but raise questions about the need for further regulation regarding the content of products with high appeal to children,” the researchers added.
“More research is needed to examine both the short and long-term impact of e-cigarette advertising, as well as the link between e-cigarette use and tobacco smoking.”