Youths have trouble discerning when it comes to e-cigarette ads, study says

From Joe Camel to the Winston Cup, tobacco advertisers have always tried to reach a broad base of the public. A university of Kansas professor believes e-cigarette makers are using a similar strategy.

“The vaping industry is copying and pasting the playbook that the tobacco industry has enjoyed decades of success from,” said Yvonnes Chen, associate professor of journalism & mass communications at KU. “We saw a lot of emotional appeals and social appeals that would really speak to young children.”

Participants in a study evaluating its impact said advertising for e-cigarettes made them want to try the products.

“These young people don’t even verify these sources of information,” said Chen. “Their lack of information literacy is really concerning.”

Multiple respondents said the ads mentioned they were healthier than cigarettes, leading them to believe they would not get addicted.

“Simply talking about facts is not enough,” said Chen. “These ads are using a lot of emotional appeals that bypass our rationally based brain. In some way, speaking about the potential danger of using
vaping products may not speak to youth who may be already open to using e-cigarettes or who may possess a number of risk factors.”

Researchers believe that e-cigarettes and their marketing should be regulated by the FDA.