One of the objections to e-cigarettes is that they look “cool” and may act as a gateway to tobacco smoking for teens and children. However, recent British and Scottish studies have generally debunked this idea.
Study 1: Impact of Advertising on Appeal of E-Cigarettes & Tobacco Smoking: University of Cambridge
The first study was conducted at the University of Cambridge, and its specific goal was to examine the concern that marketing of e-cigarettes would increase the appeal of vaping and tobacco smoking for children. Participants in the study were between the ages of 11 and 16. They were shown two sets of advertisements for e-cigarettes, one promoting candy and fruit flavours, and another with no flavours advertised.
While the children had a more positive reaction to the ads featuring candy flavours, the same children were in the overall group that stated they were unlikely to take up vaping or tobacco smoking. Advertising is covered off in the Tobacco Products Directive, which severely restricts the marketing of vaping products, including flavoured eliquids such as our own.
“Exposure to adverts for e-cigarettes does not seem to increase the appeal of tobacco smoking in children. Flavoured, compared with non-flavoured, e-cigarette adverts did, however, elicit greater appeal and interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes. Further studies extending the current research are needed to elucidate the impact of flavoured and non-flavoured e-cigarette adverts.”- Study conclusions
Findings from the study were published in January 2016.
Study 2: Young Adults & E-Cigarettes - Scottish Government
The second study was a report compiled by the Scottish Government, and is titled “Young adults and e-cigarettes: a qualitative exploration of awareness, experience and attitudes “. The study was conducted on an older age group of young adults aged 16-25 who were no longer in school.
While the report is very cautious in its language, here are some excerpts:
“The young adults in this study who were regular vapers generally reported that they had either quit or reduced their level of smoking.” -P.62
“Regular vapers reported that they were smoking less – in some cases much less – than before they started using e-cigarettes, and that this had led to what they considered to be improvements in their health.” - P. 3
“Across the groups, the general view was that it was unlikely that non-smokers
would take up smoking after having tried an e-cigarette – not only because of the
unpleasant taste and higher cost of cigarettes, but also because of the belief that
smoking is bad for your health.” - P. 4
The full PDF of the report can be downloaded here.
These recent studies contain important information; first, that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes. Tobacco cigarettes are more expensive and taste terrible in comparison to e-cigarettes, plus the children and adults surveyed were well aware of the danger of tobacco. Secondly, while advertising of candy flavours was viewed positively, these advertisements did not encourage children to take up vaping. No responsible eliquid manufacturer would advertise to children, and the Tobacco Products Directive expressly forbids it - so if this is the only danger, it’s out of the running based on legislation alone.