London: Advertisements featuring electronic cigarettes with flavours such as chocolate and bubble gum are more likely to attract school children to buy and try e-cigarettes than those featuring non-flavoured e-cigarettes, new research has found.
E-cigarettes are now the most commonly consumed nicotine product amongst children in countries with strong tobacco control policies, the study pointed out.
As e-cigarette use, rises amongst children and adolescents, there are concerns that their use could lead to tobacco smoking, said the researchers from University of Cambridge.
In the study published in the journal BMJ Tobacco Control, researchers assigned 598 school children to one of three groups — one group was shown adverts for candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes; a second group adverts for non-flavoured e-cigarettes; and a third, control group, in which the children saw no adverts.
The school children were then asked questions to gauge issues such as the appeal of using e-cigarettes and tobacco smoking, the perceived harm of smoking, how much they liked the ads and how interested they might be in buying and trying e-cigarettes.
The children shown the ads for candy-flavoured e-cigarettes liked these ads more and expressed a greater interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes than their peers.
However, showing the ads made no significant difference to the overall appeal of tobacco smoking or of using e-cigarettes – in other words, how attractive, fun or cool they considered the activities.
“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,” said one of the researchers Milica Vasiljevic from University of Cambridge.