Receptivity to Tobacco Advertising and Susceptibility to Tobacco Products

Pediatrics. 2017 Jun;139(6):e20163353. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-3353.


Background and objectives: Non-cigarette tobacco marketing is less regulated and may promote cigarette smoking among adolescents. We quantified receptivity to advertising for multiple tobacco products and hypothesized associations with susceptibility to cigarette smoking.

Methods: Wave 1 of the nationally representative PATH (Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health) study interviewed 10 751 adolescents who had never used tobacco. A stratified random selection of 5 advertisements for each of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless products, and cigars were shown from 959 recent tobacco advertisements. Aided recall was classified as low receptivity, and image-liking or favorite ad as higher receptivity. The main dependent variable was susceptibility to cigarette smoking.

Results: Among US youth, 41% of 12 to 13 year olds and half of older adolescents were receptive to at least 1 tobacco advertisement. Across each age group, receptivity to advertising was highest for e-cigarettes (28%-33%) followed by cigarettes (22%-25%), smokeless tobacco (15%-21%), and cigars (8%-13%). E-cigarette ads shown on television had the highest recall. Among cigarette-susceptible adolescents, receptivity to e-cigarette advertising (39.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 37.9%-41.6%) was higher than for cigarette advertising (31.7%; 95% CI: 29.9%-33.6%). Receptivity to advertising for each tobacco product was associated with increased susceptibility to cigarette smoking, with no significant difference across products (similar odds for both cigarette and e-cigarette advertising; adjusted odds ratio = 1.22; 95% CI: 1.09-1.37).

Conclusions: A large proportion of US adolescent never tobacco users are receptive to tobacco advertising, with television advertising for e-cigarettes having the highest recall. Receptivity to advertising for each non-cigarette tobacco product was associated with susceptibility to smoke cigarettes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising*
  • Child
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Tobacco*
  • United States