Effective anti-vaping ads aimed at teens have the greatest impact when they emphasize the negative consequences and harms of vaping e-cigarettes, use negative imagery, and avoid memes, hashtags, and other communication styles. “adolescent-centric,” according to a first-of-its-kind study by researchers at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Researchers have also found that certain currently used messaging content, particularly images related to candies and flavors, increase the appeal of vaping and should be avoided when designing prevention messages.
The results were published on May 9, 2022 in the journal tobacco control.
“E-cigarettes and vaping have become a major public health issue, with nicotine addiction and other harmful effects threatening young people,” said Seth M. Noar, PhD, UNC Lineberger, author. article correspondent and professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism. and media, where he directs the Communicating for Health Impact lab. “The percentage of teens who vape has grown from around 5% in 2011 to over 25% in 2019,” Noar said. “This is an alarming trend, making understanding effective vaping prevention messages particularly urgent.”
Since the introduction of e-cigarettes, many local and state health departments have created their own anti-vaping messages aimed at teens, as have national health organizations such as the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The online study asked 1,501 teens to rate seven randomly selected vaping prevention ads from a pool of more than 200 ads. Vaping prevention ads that clearly communicated the health harms of vaping or compared vaping to smoking were comparatively more effective. Neutral or less personally relevant content, such as reference to the environmental impact of vaping or the tobacco industry’s targeting of young people, had less impact.
“While we anticipated that vaping prevention ads with neutral or pleasant imagery would not be as effective, we were alarmed to find that flavor-related messages actually increased the appeal of vaping,” the company said. first author Marcella H. Boynton, PhD, assistant professor in the Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology at UNC and statistician at the North Carolina Institute of Translational and Clinical Sciences (NC TraCS).
“In retrospect, it stands to reason that by reminding teenagers of the pleasurable aspects of e-cigarettes, even as part of prevention advertising, we run the risk of doing harm. In particular, we found that the content of prevention advertisements linked to flavor was associated with an appeal to vaping among e-cigarette users and non-users, reminiscent of how candy and fruit flavors in e-cigarettes have driven the youth vaping epidemic.
In future studies, researchers hope to investigate the effects of other types of anti-vaping advertisements on a wide range of audiences. They are also developing a series of messages and a companion website to test the ability of a text-based intervention to reduce youth vaping. In this regard, Noar notes that “we have developed our own evidence-based messaging based on the latest scientific insights into the harms of vaping. Our messaging approach has been greatly influenced by the information generated by this study.”
The study used UNC’s Vaping Prevention Resource, a website designed to provide practitioners, researchers and communities with vaping prevention media content from around the world, as well as strategies and resources for vaping prevention. youth vaping. This is the largest repository of free, open-access vaping prevention materials, all available for download at https://vapingprevention.org/.
UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center