Oct 27, 2016 | Updated: 09:37 AM EST

Candy-Flavoured Ads Entice Kids To Vaping, Study Claims

Jan 20, 2016 03:21 AM EST

According to a British study, promotional ads featuring e-cigarettes available in flavours such as bubble gum and chocolate seem to highly entice children to purchase and try e-cigarettes. However, it added that these commercials do not necessarily affect its overall appeal to youngsters.

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E-cigarettes, short for electronic cigarettes, are battery-powered devices inhaled by users that creates vapor through heating nicotine and its flavorings. In USA alone, a threefold increase of using e-cigarettes was evident among high school students from 2013 to 2014, while it rose from 1 to 4 percent in middle school.

Although the flavourings in tobacco other than menthol have been prohibited in the USA, there are still no current policies imposed on e-cigarettes. Currently, there are about 8,000 flavours of e-cigarettes available in the market. And candy- and liqueur-flavored tobacco products are the most appealing to young people.

In a study conducted by researchers from Cambridge, they employed 598 school children between 11 and 16 years old and randomly assigned them into three groups. The first group watched candy-flavoured e-cigarettes commercials, the second with non-flavoured e-cigarettes, and the third with no advertisements.

The kids were then asked to answer some questions including measuring their desire of using the product, explaining the potential harms brought about by smoking, how much they enjoyed the ads and how interested they are to try the product themselves. The first group claimed that after seeing the adverts, they were more interested into purchasing and trying e-cigarettes; but, it made no overall impact of using them, for example, how attractive or cool they consider the activity is.

"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," Dr Milica Vasiljevic from the University of Cambridge's Department of Public Health and Primary Care stated.

American Lung Association assistant vice president of national advocacy, Erika Sward claimed that the US FDA had already announced its intention to set specific rules on e-cigarettes and aims to implement them soon. While Cliff Douglass, American Cancer Society Tobacco Control Center director, suggests that the FDA acts as soon as possible as drafting and finalizing new regulations may take months or even years to finish.

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