Vape adverts are making e-cigarettes 'more appealing' to teenagers, study finds

Number of vaping Brits has risen by 12.5 per cent in one year

Sarah Young
Monday 30 September 2019 12:44
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Vaping adverts are making electronic cigarettes “more appealing” to teenagers, new research has found.

The study, which used data from a 2017 international online survey of 12,064 16 to 19-year-olds, suggests that changes need to be made in terms of how businesses are allowed to promote vaping products, especially online.

Currently, adverts for vaping are banned in the UK's mass media. However, e-cigarettes can still be promoted via billboards, flyers and in shops that sell tobacco, vaping paraphernalia and liquids.

For the study, scientists from the University of South Carolina, the addictions department at King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies analysed how teenagers were exposed to e-cigarette adverts.

The research shows that 83 per cent of respondents have reported seeing vape adverts.

This includes 40 per cent who say they spotted adverts on websites and in social media posts from celebrities such as Love Island star Olivia Attwood.

According to the findings, 38 per cent of participants said the adverts made e-cigarettes seem “appealing”.

Furthermore, 36 per cent added that they believed non-smokers were being purposely targeted.

Dr Sara Hitchman, lecturer in addictions at King’s, said: “Our study suggests that additional efforts are needed to limit the appeal of vaping product ads to youth.”

Simon Cleverly, British American Tobacco’s group head of corporate affairs, added: “We are clear that all our products should be marketed responsibly, particularly in respect to ensuring that our communications are only directed towards adult consumers.

“We have strict controls in place to ensure our partnerships are appropriate and feature individuals over the age of 25.”

The findings follow previous research from the University of Leeds which suggested that young people who vape and do not smoke are nearly four times more likely to try cigarettes than non-vaping peers.

Recent figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), also show that the number of people vaping in the UK has reached an all-time high.

According to the UK charity, 3.6 million people in the UK currently use e-cigarettes, a rise of 12.5 per cent in one year.

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The products are most popular among 35 to 44-year-olds, followed by 45 to 54-year-olds. The lowest rates of use are among young adults, aged 18 to 24.

Vaping has been linked to 200 health problems – including pneumonia and heart disorders – in the UK over the last five years, according to a government watchdog.

The illnesses were listed in 74 separate “Yellow Card” reports about e-cigarettes filed to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) by the public and healthcare professionals.

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