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Impact of e-cigarette retail displays on attitudes to smoking and vaping in children: an online experimental study.

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OBJECTIVES: To estimate the impact of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) retail display exposure on attitudes to smoking and vaping (susceptibility to tobacco smoking and using e-cigarettes, and perceptions of the harms of smoking and e-cigarette use). DESIGN: Between-subjects randomised experiment using a 2 (e-cigarette retail display visibility: high vs low)×2 (proportion of e-cigarette images: 75% vs 25%) factorial design. SETTING: Online via the Qualtrics survey platform. PARTICIPANTS: UK children aged 13-17 years (n=1034), recruited through a research agency. INTERVENTION: Participants viewed 12 images of retail displays that contained e-cigarette display images or unrelated product images. E-cigarette display images were either high or low visibility, based on a conspicuousness score. Participants were randomised to one of four groups, with e-cigarette display visibility and proportion of e-cigarette images, compared with images of unrelated products, manipulated: (1) 75% e-cigarettes, high visibility; (2) 25% e-cigarettes, high visibility; (3) 75% e-cigarettes, low visibility; (4) 25% e-cigarettes, low visibility. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was susceptibility to smoking (among never smokers only). Secondary outcomes were susceptibility to using e-cigarettes (among never vapers only), and perceptions of smoking and e-cigarette harm (all participants). RESULTS: Neither e-cigarette retail display visibility, nor the proportion of e-cigarette images displayed, appeared to influence susceptibility to smoking (visibility: OR=0.84, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.13, p=0.24; proportion: OR=1.34, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.82, p=0.054 (reference: low visibility, not susceptible)).Planned subgroup analyses indicated that exposure to a higher proportion of e-cigarette images increased susceptibility to smoking among children who visited retail stores more regularly (n=524, OR=1.59, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.43, p=0.034), and those who passed the attention check (n=880, OR=1.43, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.98, p=0.031).In addition, neither e-cigarette retail display visibility nor the proportion of e-cigarette images displayed, appeared to influence susceptibility to using e-cigarettes (visibility: OR=1.07, 95% CI 0.80 to 1.43, p=0.65; proportion: OR=1.22, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.64, p=0.18).Greater visibility of e-cigarette retail displays reduced perceived harm of smoking (mean difference (MD)=-0.19, 95% CI -0.34 to -0.04, p=0.016). There was no evidence that the proportion of e-cigarette images displayed had an effect (MD=-0.07, 95% CI -0.22 to 0.09, p=0.40).Perceived harm of e-cigarette use did not appear to be affected by e-cigarette retail display visibility (MD=-0.12, 95% CI -0.28 to 0.05, p=0.16) or by the proportion of e-cigarette images displayed (MD=-0.10, 95% CI -0.26 to 0.07, p=0.24). CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence in the full sample to suggest that children's susceptibility to smoking is increased by exposure to higher visibility e-cigarette retail displays, or to a higher proportion of e-cigarette images. However, for regular store visitors or those paying more attention, viewing a higher proportion of e-cigarette images increased susceptibility to smoking. In addition, viewing higher visibility e-cigarette images reduced perceived harm of smoking. A review of the current regulatory discrepancy between tobacco and e-cigarette point-of-sale marketing is warranted. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: ISRCTN18215632.



electronic nicotine delivery devices, environment, public policy, Humans, Child, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, Vaping, Smoking, Tobacco Smoking, Marketing, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

Journal Title

Tob Control

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Wellcome Trust (206853/Z/17/Z)