Home Men Health Youth vaping skyrockets as 85% are exposed to e-cig ads, despite global bans

Youth vaping skyrockets as 85% are exposed to e-cig ads, despite global bans

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Youth vaping skyrockets as 85% are exposed to e-cig ads, despite global bans

In a recent study published within the journal Tobacco Induced Diseases, researchers conducted a four-nation-wide cross-sectional online survey to evaluate youths’ exposure to media-based e-cigarette promoting. Despite World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and national legislature restricting e-cigarette promoting, study findings revealed that 85% of youth sampled had been exposed to at least one or more modes of e-cigarette promoting. The study further investigated the association between media exposure and e-cigarette use and located a major association between these variables.

Study: Exposure to e-cigarette promoting and young people’s use of e-cigarettes: A four-country study. Image Credit: Created with the help of DALL·E 3

What Are E-Cigarettes and Why Are They Controversial?

Electronic cigarettes, also called “e-cigs,” “vapes,” “e-hookahs,” “vape pens,” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), are battery-powered devices that simulate tobacco smoking. Despite e-cigs being popularized as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarette smoking, research has identified significant neural and cardiovascular damage and an increased risk of nicotine addiction, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults, as a consequence of their use.

Global Efforts and Regulations: Are They Enough?

Deriving from this research, the World Health Organization (WHO) has really helpful banning all e-cig promoting, sponsorship, and promotion forms. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, adopted as a component of the 56th World Health Assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 21 May 2003, requires all signatories to implement this ban. Nonetheless, while most national legislatures have been updated to incorporate these regulatory policies, a growing body of evidence alludes to continued advertisements, especially over the Web and other hard-to-monitor digital media sources.

That is alarming, especially provided that anecdotal evidence suggests inverse relationships between youths’ harm perceptions (a function of media exposure) and e-cig use. Nonetheless, few studies have aimed to research the particular types of media exposure formally and the potential additive effects of multiple or prolonged advertisements on e-cig outcomes, with research being restricted to the USA (US).

The Study Design: Investigating Media Exposure Across 4 Nations

In the current study, researchers aimed to research e-cig media exposure in young adults (age 18-30), the several types of media exposure, and any potential association between e-cig use and the quantity of exposure. The web cross-sectional study was conducted across 4 countries with diverse ethnicities and a spectrum of e-cig legislature.

“India has amongst the strictest regulatory environments on this planet: nicotine and non-nicotine e-cigarettes are banned and promoting is just not permitted. The UK has essentially the most liberal laws across the 4 included countries.”

Australia and China, the remaining two countries, represent a middle ground between India and the UK’s (UK’s) legislature – Australia allows for the sale of non-nicotine e-cigs and nicotine e-cigs with a prescription. China allows adults (≥18 years) to buy nicotine e-cigs. Each countries have banned advertisements of e-cigs through the media.

The sample group comprised ~1,000 survey respondents per nation across the 4 countries, with care taken to make sure that female and male representation was uniform across cohorts. The survey comprised a blind (participants were unaware of the contents of the study prior to receiving it) 15-minute-long questionnaire delivered between November and December 2021. Roughly 82% of respondents accomplished the survey, but 8% were faraway from the analyses following quality assessment.

Along with questions regarding e-cig knowledge, use, and media exposure, the questionnaire collected data on participants’ demographics, including sex, age, educational level, and income. Deriving from the US National Youth Tobacco Survey, researchers identified and listed 24 types of media. To evaluate the association between multiple modes of media exposure and e-cig use, study participants were asked to disclose the variety of forms applicable to them.

Statistical analyses comprised chi-squared tests and mixed effects logistic regression models. The models were corrected to account for country-specific clustering.

Key Findings: The Impact of Media Exposure on Vaping Rates

Out of the 4,107 participants included within the study, 1,011 reported a lack of expertise about e-cigarettes. These participants were predominantly from China (50%) and India (35%). Roughly 85% of respondents with knowledge of e-cigs reported at the least one type of media exposure, with this number higher within the user cohort (95%) than respondents who didn’t use e-cigs (79%).

Assessment of modes of media exposure revealed a mean of 5 forms per respondent, with a majority of exposure being found on social media platforms like Douyin (China – 50%) and Instagram (Australia/India/UK – 39%) in comparison with general web browsing (29%).

Logistic regression models revealed that the percentages of e-cig consumption increased by 5% for each additional mode of media exposure. Other significant aspects related to e-cig consumption included being a current or previous tobacco smoker or having friends or members of the family who use e-cigs. Male participants were also found to be more prone to vape than their female counterparts.

Conclusions: Urgent Need for Tighter Regulations

The current study investigates the variety of modes of media exposure pertaining to e-cigs and the way this exposure translates to e-cig adoption amongst young adults aged 18-30 years. The study comprised over 4,000 respondents across India, China, Australia, and the UK, revealing that 85% of respondents had been exposed to at the least one type of e-cig-promoting media. Modes of exposure were mainly online and primarily focused on social media platforms like Douyin and Instagram.

Alarmingly, every unit of media exposure was related to a 5% increased probability of taking over vaping. This study highlights the importance of enforcing commercial bans across nations and, wherever applicable, cross-border policies to curb the net spread of e-cig-promoting media.

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