Ad Study Analysed

Posted 15th November 2019 by Dave Cross
Alice Davies and Sophia Lowes from Cancer Research UK, with assistance from Professor Linda Bauld at the University of Edinburgh and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, looked at research examining youth perceptions of vape advertising.

Researchers from America, Canada and the United Kingdom analysed data from the 2017 ITC Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey. They examined young people’s exposure to and perceptions of vaping marketing in all three countries.

Just over 12,000 young people aged 16-19 years were included, around 4,000 in each country. Most participants (83% England, 81% USA, 74% Canada) had seen some form of vaping promotion in the last 30 days.

The study aimed to examine differences in youth perceptions of vaping advertising and products and the impact of legislative advertising restrictions across Canada, England and the US. They say: “In 2017 Canada imposed a complete ban on e-cigarette advertising, England banned advertising on some channels and the US had no restrictions. 12,064 youth (aged 16-19) self-reported the frequency of exposure to vaping adverts in the past 30 days, their perception of the appeal of e-cigarettes and the perceived advert target audience.”

They found “Vaping ad exposure in the past 30 days was 81%, 74% and 83% for participants in the US, Canada and England respectively. Compared to never-users of either product, ever-users, exclusive vapers, exclusive smokers and dual users all reported more frequent exposure to vaping adverts.”

After the results were adjusted for age, sex race/ethnicity and tobacco/vaping product use, “there was no significant difference in the appeal of e-cigarette ads across all countries.”


Findings included:

  • Point of sale in stores that sell cigarettes (60% England and USA, 46% Canada)
  • Websites or social media (40% England, 41% USA, 38% Canada)
  • TV and radio ads (one in five young people in England reporting having seen these)
  • Young people who vaped or smoked reported higher exposure to marketing
  • Young people in England were less likely to report that they thought vaping ads targeted non-smokers (36%) compared to the USA (48%) and Canada (47%)

The trio believe, “the study provides useful information that could be used as the basis for further research in the UK (and elsewhere) on youth exposure to the remaining forms of e-cigarette marketing and possible exposure through routes that are intended to be prohibited.”

They say the research has drawbacks in that “the data was cross-sectional and therefore cannot establish a causal effect of exposure to e-cigarette adverts and vaping among youths.”

Also, “current vaping and smoking were defined as any past 30-day use, so this study was unable to consider how patterns of smoking of vaping might affect the relationship with advertising perceptions.”


  • “Youth self-reported exposure to and perceptions of vaping advertisements: Findings from the 2017 International Tobacco Control Youth Tobacco and Vaping Survey” by Cho et al. – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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