The effect of electronic cigarette advertising on intended use among college students

Addict Behav. 2015 Jul;46:77-81. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.03.005. Epub 2015 Mar 16.


Introduction: . Aside from prohibiting health claims, there are presently no restrictions on electronic cigarette advertising in the U.S. Studies have shown college students have a positive view of e-cigarettes and use on campuses is increasing. The purpose of this study was to test if the appeal of e-cigarette advertisements and beliefs about the addictiveness of e-cigarettes may affect their uptake among college students.

Methods: The study was framed within the Theory of Reasoned Action, which posits that behavioral intention can be understood in terms of social norms and attitudes toward a behavior. We also included variables capturing appeal of e-cigarette advertisements, belief that e-cigarettes are not as addictive as cigarettes, and tobacco use. Attitudes toward e-cigarettes, perceived norms concerning their use, beliefs that e-cigarettes are not as addictive as cigarettes, and positive appraisal of e-cigarette advertising videos were all hypothesized to be independently positively associated with intention to use an e-cigarette. Data were collected through a survey of students at a major U.S. university (participation rate 78%, N=296). Participants were exposed to three e-cigarette video advertisements in random order.

Results: In a regression analysis we found positive reaction to the ads and holding the belief that e-cigarettes are not as addictive were both independently associated with intention. Attitudes and norms were also associated but were controlled by inclusion of the other variables.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that advertising may promote the uptake of e-cigarettes and may do so in addition to current smoking and alternate tobacco use status.

Keywords: Advertising; College students; Electronic cigarettes.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / psychology
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Southwestern United States
  • Students / psychology