The e-cigarette industry argues that flavors are not meant to appeal to youth, yet no study has asked youth what age group they think ads for flavored e-liquids are targeting. A newly published study asked youth which age group they thought ads for flavored e-liquids targeted. A random sample of 255 youth from across California viewed eight ads, presented in randomized order, for fruit-, dessert-, alcohol-, and coffee-flavored e-liquids and indicated the age group they thought the ads targeted: younger, same age, a little older, or much older than them.
- Most participants (94%) indicated the cupcake man flavor ad targeted an audience of people younger than they.
- Over half felt ads for smoothy (68%), cherry (64%), vanilla cupcake (58%), and caramel cappuccino (50%) targeted their age and for no flavor ad did most feel the primary target age group was much older.
- Youth believe ads for flavored e-liquids target individuals about their age, not older adults.
The researchers concluded that findings support the need to regulate flavored e-liquids and associated ads to reduce youth appeal, which ultimately could reduce youth use of e-cigarettes.
Source: McKelvey et al. (2018). Youth say ads for flavored e-liquids are for them. Addictive Behaviors, Aug 29. pii: S0306-4603(18)30957-2. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.08.029. [Epub ahead of print]