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Can E-cigarette Ads Undermine Former Smokers? An Experimental Study

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Objectives: Many e-cigarette advertisements (ads) are reminiscent of ads for cigarettes. This study explored the effects of e-cigarette ad exposure among former smokers in 2 countries with different e-cigarette regulation contexts. Methods: In an online study, 408 US and 405 Australian former smokers from survey panels were randomized to one of 14 e-cigarette or 2 control ads. Analyses examined effects of ad condition, and interactions by country and relapse susceptibility. Results: Effects were generally consistent across countries. Compared to control ads, those exposed to e-cigarette ads not only were more likely to have some urge or susceptibility to use e-cigarettes, but also were more likely to be reminded of smoking and have some desire to smoke cigarettes; US former smokers were less likely to be confident to abstain from smoking. These effects were especially pronounced among those susceptible to relapse. E-cigarette ad exposure was not associated with estimates of e-cigarette prevalence or perceptions of quitting ease. Conclusions: Exposure to e-cigarette ads can increase former smokers' desire to smoke and weaken their confidence to abstain. Regulators may need to consider the potential population impact of allowing former smokers to be exposed repeatedly to e-cigarette advertising.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2016

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  • Tobacco Regulatory Science (Electronic ISSN 2333-9748) is a rigorously peer-reviewed online scientific journal for the dissemination of research relevant to the regulation of tobacco products. The journal content includes a broad array of research domains, including chemistry, biology, behavior, community, and population-level surveillance and epidemiology, as well as knowledge syntheses (eg, meta-analyses or state-of-the-art reviews) and analytic modeling. All articles describe the policy relevance of the research outcomes. Given the global nature of tobacco regulation, particularly as a result of international and national policies, Tobacco Regulatory Science publishes high quality research that is relevant to global regulatory needs and requirements. Tobacco Regulatory Science is published electronically 6 times per year.
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