London: Adolescents who recall seeing electronic-cigarettes in shops are more likely to have tried the devices in the past and are expected to vape in the future, a new study has warned.
Led by researchers from University of Stirling in the UK, the study is the first to examine the relationship between adolescents’ recollection of e-cigarette displays at point of sale (POS) and their self-reported past use and future intention to use e-cigarettes.
Young people who had tried e-cigarettes in the past were found to be more likely to intend to use them again. Researchers also found that young people were more likely to try e-cigarettes if they had previously smoked tobacco.
Young people who had never smoked tobacco were much less likely to have tried e-cigarettes or intend to do so in the future.
Most adolescents in the study who reported using e-cigarettes had only tried them once or twice and were not regular users, researchers said.
It was previously known that exposure to cigarette POS displays influences smoking behaviour and intentions in young people and that increased availability of cigarettes – for example through a high number of shops selling tobacco near a person’s home – is associated with higher consumption and uptake.
However, to date there has been no evidence regarding the relationship between e-cigarette POS display exposure and e-cigarette use in young people, researchers said.
To examine a potential relationship between exposure to POS displays and e-cigarette use in adolescents, researchers conducted a survey in four high schools in Scotland which involved 3,808 students between 11 and 18 years of age.
Respondents were asked whether they had heard of e-cigarettes, whether they had ever used them, and whether they intended to try them in the next 6 months. They were also asked if they had ever smoked cigarettes and if they intended to do so in the next year.
A strong association between recall of e-cigarette displays at point of sale and use of e-cigarettes and intention to use in the future was found in this study, researchers said.
However, it used a cross-sectional design and so no causal relationship between POS recall and e-cigarette use or intention to use could be established, they said.
Therefore, it is unclear whether young people who plan to try e-cigarettes do so because they notice e-cigarettes at POS or whether they notice e-cigarettes because they intend to try them in the future, researchers said.
The findings were published in the journal BMC Public Health.