A fMRI study on the impact of advertising for flavored e-cigarettes on susceptible young adults.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:E-cigarettes are sold in flavors such as "skittles," "strawberrylicious," and "juicy fruit," and no restrictions are in place on marketing e-cigarettes to youth. Sweets/fruits depicted in e-cigarette advertisements may increase their appeal to youth and interfere with health warnings. This study tested a brain biomarker of product preference for sweet/fruit versus tobacco flavor e-cigarettes, and whether advertising for flavors interfered with warning labels. METHODS:Participants (N?=?26) were college-age young adults who had tried an e-cigarette and were susceptible to future e-cigarette use. They viewed advertisements in fMRI for sweet/fruit and tobacco flavor e-cigarettes, menthol and regular cigarettes, and control images of sweets/fruits/mints with no tobacco product. Cue-reactivity was measured in the nucleus accumbens, a brain biomarker of product preference. Advertisements randomly contained warning labels, and recognition of health warnings was tested post-scan. Visual attention was measured using eye-tracking. RESULTS:There was a significant effect of e-cigarette condition (sweet/tobacco/control) on nucleus accumbens activity, that was not found for cigarette condition (menthol/regular/control). Nucleus accumbens activity was greater for sweet/fruit versus tobacco flavor e-cigarette advertisements and did not differ compared with control images of sweets and fruits. Greater nucleus accumbens activity was correlated with poorer memory for health warnings. CONCLUSIONS:These and exploratory eye-tracking findings suggest that advertising for sweet/fruit flavors may increase positive associations with e-cigarettes and/or override negative associations with tobacco, and interfere with health warnings, suggesting that one way to reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes to youth and educate youth about e-cigarette health risks is to regulate advertising for flavors.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Understanding the role that flavors play in the population's use of e-cigarettes and the impact that flavored e-cigarette products have on the population's use of more harmful tobacco products, like conventional cigarettes, has been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a public health research priority. The purpose of the study was to assess the first e-cigarette flavor and current e-cigarette flavors used by a large non-probabilistic sample of adult frequent users of e-cigarettes in the USA and assess how flavor preferences vary by cigarette smoking status and time since first e-cigarette purchase. METHODS:An online survey assessed the first e-cigarette flavor and current e-cigarette flavors used by a non-probabilistic sample of 20,836 adult frequent e-cigarette users in the USA. Differences in e-cigarette flavor preferences between current smokers, former smokers, and never-smokers and trends in the first flavor used across time of e-cigarette use initiation were assessed. RESULTS:The majority (n?=?15,807; 76.4%) of sampled frequent e-cigarette users had completely substituted e-cigarettes for conventional cigarettes-"switchers"-and were currently using rechargeable, refillable vaping devices. Among them, the proportion of first e-cigarette purchases that were fruit-flavored increased from 17.8% of first purchases made before 2011 to 33.5% of first purchases made between June 2015 and June 2016. Tobacco-flavored first purchases almost halved during this time (46.0% pre-2011 to 24.0% between 2015 and 2016). Fruit/fruit beverage (73.9 to 82.9% of sampled users), dessert/pastry (63.5 to 68.5% of sampled users), and candy, chocolate, or sweets (48.7 to 53.4% of sampled users) were the most popular currently used e-cigarette flavors. Tobacco and menthol flavors, the two most popular flavors for initiating e-cigarette use prior to 2013, now rank as the 5th and 6th most popular currently used e-cigarette flavors, respectively. CONCLUSIONS:Adult frequent e-cigarette users in the USA who have completely switched from smoking cigarettes to using e-cigarettes are increasingly likely to have initiated e-cigarette use with non-tobacco flavors and to have transitioned from tobacco to non-tobacco flavors over time. Restricting access to non-tobacco e-cigarette flavors may discourage smokers from attempting to switch to e-cigarettes.
Project description:Rationale: The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has rapidly increased in the United States, and thousands of e-cigarette flavors are available. However, there remains a dearth of evidence on e-cigarette flavor use patterns among older e-cigarette users.Objectives: This longitudinal study examined changes in flavor use patterns in long-term e-cigarette users, assessed self-reported adverse reactions, and evaluated users' anticipated reactions to possible U.S. Food and Drug Administration e-cigarette flavor regulatory scenarios.Methods: The study population was 383 adult participants who completed two online e-cigarette surveys in 2012-2014 (baseline survey) and in 2017-2019 (follow-up survey). In both surveys, participants were asked, "Thinking about your preferred liquid, what is the name of this liquid flavor?" and to list all flavors used in the past 30 days. Flavor preference was classified using the Penn State Three-Step Flavor Classification method. Participants reported adverse events (open-ended description) with the associated flavor. Regulatory scenarios were presented, and participants selected perceived actions from among a list of 15 options.Results: Participants' age averaged 44?±?12 years; 86% were exclusive e-cigarette users, and 13% reported "poly-use" (i.e., e-cigarette and other tobacco product use). E-cigarette flavor preference migration occurred in all demographic groups: only 36-44% maintained a preference for their original flavor. Preference for tobacco and menthol or mint decreased over time (40% baseline vs. 22% follow-up); preference for fruit remained stable (23% baseline and follow-up), but chocolate/candy or other sweets preference significantly increased (16% baseline vs. 29% follow-up), and other flavors increased slightly. Migration to sweet flavors was more noticeable in younger adults (18-45 yr); exclusive e-cigarette users preferred sweet flavors more commonly than poly-users did (31% vs. 19%). Flavor-associated adverse reactions, mainly respiratory irritations, were reported by 26 (6.9%) participants. Nearly 50% of the participants reported that they would "find a way" to buy their preferred flavor or add flavoring agents themselves if nontobacco flavors were banned.Conclusions: Flavor migration toward sweet flavors occurred in long-term e-cigarette users, a trend most pronounced in younger and exclusive e-cigarette users. The anticipated maintenance of access to flavors despite regulation suggests an element of e-cigarette-related dependence that requires further evaluation. This information could help clinicians understand the health impacts of e-cigarette flavors, develop appropriate strategies for smoking cessation, and inform the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to plan future regulation of e-cigarette flavors.
Project description:Systematic review of research examining consumer preference for the main electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) attributes namely flavor, nicotine strength, and type.A systematic search of peer-reviewed articles resulted in a pool of 12,933 articles. We included only articles that meet all the selection criteria: (1) peer-reviewed, (2) written in English, and (3) addressed consumer preference for one or more of the e-cigarette attributes including flavor, strength, and type.66 articles met the inclusion criteria for this review. Consumers preferred flavored e-cigarettes, and such preference varied with age groups and smoking status. We also found that several flavors were associated with decreased harm perception while tobacco flavor was associated with increased harm perception. In addition, some flavor chemicals and sweeteners used in e-cigarettes could be of toxicological concern. Finally, consumer preference for nicotine strength and types depended on smoking status, e-cigarette use history, and gender.Adolescents could consider flavor the most important factor trying e-cigarettes and were more likely to initiate vaping through flavored e-cigarettes. Young adults overall preferred sweet, menthol, and cherry flavors, while non-smokers in particular preferred coffee and menthol flavors. Adults in general also preferred sweet flavors (though smokers like tobacco flavor the most) and disliked flavors that elicit bitterness or harshness. In terms of whether flavored e-cigarettes assisted quitting smoking, we found inconclusive evidence. E-cigarette users likely initiated use with a cigarette like product and transitioned to an advanced system with more features. Non-smokers and inexperienced e-cigarettes users tended to prefer no nicotine or low nicotine e-cigarettes while smokers and experienced e-cigarettes users preferred medium and high nicotine e-cigarettes. Weak evidence exists regarding a positive interaction between menthol flavor and nicotine strength.
Project description:BACKGROUND:E-cigarette regulations targeting products that disproportionately appeal to never-smokers may optimize population health. This laboratory study of young adults tested whether differences in appeal between e-cigarettes with non-tobacco-flavored (vs. tobacco-flavored) and nicotine-containing (vs. nicotine-free) solutions varied by smoking history. METHODS:Current (N?=?53), former (N?=?25), and never (N?=?22) cigarette smokers who vape (Mean[SD] age?=?25.4[4.4] years) administered standardized e-cigarette doses varied by a Flavor (fruit, menthol, tobacco) × Nicotine (nicotine-containing [6?mg/mL], nicotine-free) within-subject double-blind design. Participants rated each dose's appeal (0-100 scale). Covariate-adjusted interactions tested whether smoking history moderated flavor and nicotine effects. RESULTS:Appeal was higher for fruit and menthol than tobacco flavors in each group. The fruit vs. tobacco appeal difference was greater in never smokers (fruit-tobacco estimate?=?19.6) than current smokers (estimate?=?12.1) but not former smokers (estimate?=?12.6). The menthol vs. tobacco difference was greater in never smokers (menthol-tobacco estimate?=?17.3) than former (estimate?=?6.0) and current (estimate?=?7.2) smokers. Appeal was lower for nicotine-containing than nicotine-free solutions in each group; this difference was greater in never smokers (nicotine-nicotine-free estimate?=?-17.3) than former (estimate?=?-7.0) and current (estimate?=?-10.6) smokers. Compared to tobacco flavors, nicotine's appeal-reducing effects were suppressed by fruit and menthol flavors in never smokers. CONCLUSIONS:Higher appeal of non-tobacco-flavored (vs. tobacco-flavored) and lower appeal of nicotine-containing (vs. nicotine-free) e-cigarettes may be widespread in young adults but disproportionately amplified in never smokers. Non-tobacco flavors may suppress nicotine's appeal-lowering qualities in never smokers. The impact of regulating non-tobacco flavors in e-cigarettes may vary by smoking history.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The number of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) users has been increasing rapidly in recent years, especially among youth and young adults. More e-cigarette products have become available, including e-liquids with various brands and flavors. Various e-liquid flavors have been frequently discussed by e-cigarette users on social media. OBJECTIVE:This study aimed to examine the longitudinal prevalence of mentions of electronic cigarette liquid (e-liquid) flavors and user perceptions on social media. METHODS:We applied a data-driven approach to analyze the trends and macro-level user sentiments of different e-cigarette flavors on social media. With data collected from web-based stores, e-liquid flavors were classified into categories in a flavor hierarchy based on their ingredients. The e-cigarette-related posts were collected from social media platforms, including Reddit and Twitter, using e-cigarette-related keywords. The temporal trend of mentions of e-liquid flavor categories was compiled using Reddit data from January 2013 to April 2019. Twitter data were analyzed using a sentiment analysis from May to August 2019 to explore the opinions of e-cigarette users toward each flavor category. RESULTS:More than 1000 e-liquid flavors were classified into 7 major flavor categories. The fruit and sweets categories were the 2 most frequently discussed e-liquid flavors on Reddit, contributing to approximately 58% and 15%, respectively, of all flavor-related posts. We showed that mentions of the fruit flavor category had a steady overall upward trend compared with other flavor categories that did not show much change over time. Results from the sentiment analysis demonstrated that most e-liquid flavor categories had significant positive sentiments, except for the beverage and tobacco categories. CONCLUSIONS:The most updated information about the popular e-liquid flavors mentioned on social media was investigated, which showed that the prevalence of mentions of e-liquid flavors and user perceptions on social media were different. Fruit was the most frequently discussed flavor category on social media. Our study provides valuable information for future regulation of flavored e-cigarettes.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:It is unclear whether warnings on electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) advertisements required by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will apply to social media. Given the key role of social media in marketing e-cigarettes, we seek to inform FDA decision making by exploring how warnings on various tweet content influence perceived healthiness, nicotine harm, likelihood to try e-cigarettes, and warning recall. METHODS:In this 2 × 4 between-subjects experiment participants viewed a tweet from a fictitious e-cigarette brand. Four tweet content versions (e-cigarette product, e-cigarette use, e-cigarette in social context, unrelated content) were crossed with two warning versions (absent, present). Adult e-cigarette users (N = 994) were recruited via social media ads to complete a survey and randomized to view one of eight tweets. Multivariable regressions explored effects of tweet content and warning on perceived healthiness, perceived harm, and likelihood to try e-cigarettes, and tweet content on warning recall. Covariates were tobacco and social media use and demographics. RESULTS:Tweets with warnings elicited more negative health perceptions of the e-cigarette brand than tweets without warnings (p < .05). Tweets featuring e-cigarette products (p < .05) or use (p < .001) elicited higher warning recall than tweets featuring unrelated content. CONCLUSIONS:This is the first study to examine warning effects on perceptions of e-cigarette social media marketing. Warnings led to more negative e-cigarette health perceptions, but no effect on perceived nicotine harm or likelihood to try e-cigarettes. There were differences in warning recall by tweet content. Research should explore how varying warning content (text, size, placement) on tweets from e-cigarette brands influences health risk perceptions. IMPLICATIONS:FDA's 2016 ruling requires warnings on advertisements for nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but does not specify whether this applies to social media. This study is the first to examine how e-cigarette warnings in tweets influence perceived healthiness and harm of e-cigarettes, which is important because e-cigarette brands are voluntarily including warnings on Twitter and Instagram. Warnings influenced perceived healthiness of the e-cigarette brand, but not perceived nicotine harm or likelihood to try e-cigarettes. We also saw higher recall of warning statements for tweets featuring e-cigarettes. Findings suggest that expanding warning requirements to e-cigarette social media marketing warrants further exploration and FDA consideration.
Project description:Appealing product characteristics, such as flavors, may stimulate e-cigarette use. While switching to e-cigarettes may reduce harm for smokers, concerns exist about e-cigarette use among never-smokers. The role of flavors in the decision to switch to or refrain from vaping is unclear. This study used a bottom-up approach to investigate the relation between flavor preferences and individual factors related to vaping between various user groups. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among never-users (n = 407), smokers (n = 138), dual users (n = 122), and exclusive vapers (n = 61) in the Netherlands. Demographics, attractiveness of product characteristics, flavor preferences, and individual factors related to vaping (knowledge, trust, perceived susceptibility, attitude, social influence, deliberation, and intention) were assessed. The availability of different flavors was the most attractive characteristic of e-cigarettes. Dual users and exclusive vapers had most often used tobacco and menthol/mint flavors when they first started vaping. Compared to dual users, exclusive vapers currently used more fruit and sweet flavors. Never-users who were interested in trying an e-liquid flavor had more knowledge about and a more positive attitude towards e-cigarettes. Smokers who were interested in trying a flavor had a more positive attitude towards e-cigarettes and experienced the social influence towards not using e-cigarettes as less strong than those who did not want to try any flavor. Hence, individual factors related to vaping differed depending on whether never-users and smokers wanted to try an e-liquid flavor. This means that flavors may moderate differences found in individual factors related to vaping, or vice versa.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Characterizing flavors are widely available in e-cigarettes and motivate initiation and continued use. Flavors may enhance appeal and facilitate development of addiction to tobacco products through modulation of tobacco products' reinforcing or aversive actions. Palatable flavors (eg, fruit) may increase appeal through primary reinforcing properties. Menthol's cooling and anesthetic effects may increase appeal by counteracting nicotine's aversive effects. Genetics provide a method for modeling individual differences in sensitivity to nicotine's effects. A common polymorphism, rs16969968, encoded in the ?5 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit gene (CHRNA5), is a well-recognized marker for smoking risk and reduces sensitivity to nicotine aversiveness. METHODS:This pilot study tested how flavors impacted e-cigarette appeal and self-administration. In a single testing day, cigarette smokers (N = 32; 94% menthol-smokers) self-administered e-cigarettes containing e-liquids differing in nicotine level (0 mg/mL, 24 mg/mL) and flavor (unflavored, menthol, fruit-flavored) within directed and ad libitum e-cigarette paradigms. Subjective drug effects, number of puffs, rs16969968 genotype, plasma nicotine, and menthol glucuronide levels were collected. RESULTS:Menthol partially ameliorated nicotine aversiveness; fruit did not. In nicotine's absence, fruit flavor increased self-reported preference and ad libitum use relative to menthol-containing or unflavored e-liquids. Individuals with high-smoking-risk rs16969968 genotype (N = 7) reported greater craving alleviation following directed administration of nicotine-containing e-liquids, showed a trend rating nicotine-containing e-liquids as less harsh, and self-administered more nicotine during ad libitum compared to individuals with low-smoking-risk genotype (N = 23). CONCLUSIONS:While menthol countered aversiveness of nicotine-containing e-liquids, fruit flavor increased appeal of nicotine-free e-liquids. These preliminary findings suggest menthol and fruit flavor increase e-cigarettes' appeal through distinct mechanisms. IMPLICATIONS:This study provides a detailed characterization of the effects of flavors (unflavored, menthol, fruit), nicotine (0 mg/mL, 24 mg/mL) and their interactions on the subjective drug effects and ad libitum self-administration of e-cigarettes. Genetics were used to assess these effects in higher-smoking-risk (diminished sensitivity to nicotine aversiveness) and lower-risk groups. Findings could inform impact of regulation of flavors or nicotine in e-cigarettes, and their impacts on vulnerable sub-populations.
Project description:AIMS:This study examined whether nontobacco flavors are more commonly used by vapers (e-cigarette users) compared with tobacco flavor, described which flavors are most popular, and tested whether flavors are associated with: vaping satisfaction relative to smoking, level of enjoyment with vaping, reasons for using e-cigarettes, and making an attempt to quit smoking by smokers. METHODS:This cross-sectional study included 1603 adults from Canada and the United States who vaped at least weekly, and were either current smokers (concurrent users) or former smokers (exclusive vapers). Respondents were categorized into one of seven flavors they used most in the last month: tobacco, tobacco-menthol, unflavored, or one of the nontobacco flavors: menthol/mint, fruit, candy, or "other" (eg, coffee). RESULTS:Vapers use a wide range of flavors, with 63.1% using a nontobacco flavor. The most common flavor categories were fruit (29.4%) and tobacco (28.7%), followed by mint/menthol (14.4%) and candy (13.5%). Vapers using candy (41.0%, p < .0001) or fruit flavors (26.0%, p = .01) found vaping more satisfying (compared with smoking) than vapers using tobacco flavor (15.5%) and rated vaping as very/extremely enjoyable (fruit: 50.9%; candy: 60.9%) than those using tobacco flavor (39.4%). Among concurrent users, those using fruit (74.6%, p = .04) or candy flavors (81.1%, p = .003) were more likely than tobacco flavor users (63.5%) to vape in order to quit smoking. Flavor category was not associated with the likelihood of a quit attempt (p = .46). Among exclusive vapers, tobacco and nontobacco flavors were popular; however, those using tobacco (99.0%) were more likely than those using candy (72.8%, p = .002) or unflavored (42.5%, p = .005) to vape in order to stay quit. CONCLUSIONS:A majority of regular vapers in Canada and the US use nontobacco flavors. Greater satisfaction and enjoyment with vaping are higher among fruit and candy flavor users. While it does not appear that certain flavors are associated with a greater propensity to attempt to quit smoking among concurrent users, nontobacco flavors are popular among former smokers who are exclusively vaping. Future research should determine the likely impact of flavor bans on those who are vaping to quit smoking or to stay quit. IMPLICATIONS:Recent concerns about the attractiveness of e-cigarette flavors among youth have resulted in flavor restrictions in some jurisdictions of the United States and Canada. However, little is known about the possible consequences for current and former smokers if they no longer have access to their preferred flavors. This study shows that a variety of nontobacco flavors, especially fruit, are popular among adult vapers, particularly among those who have quit smoking and are now exclusively vaping. Limiting access to flavors may therefore reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes among adults who are trying to quit smoking or stay quit.
Project description:This study was a 3 (Brand: Blu, MarkTen, Vuse) by 3 (Warning Size: 20%, 30%, or 50% of advertisement surface) by 2 (Warning Background: White, Red) experimental investigation of the effects of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) warning label design features. Young adults aged 18-30 years (n = 544) were recruited online, completed demographic and tobacco use history measures, and randomized to view e-cigarette advertisements with warning labels that varied by the experimental conditions. Participants completed a task assessing self-reported visual attention to advertisements with a-priori regions of interest defined around warning labels. Warning message recall and perceived addictiveness of e-cigarettes were assessed post-exposure. Approximately half of participants reported attending to warning labels and reported attention was greater for warnings on red versus white backgrounds. Recall of the warning message content was also greater among those reporting attention to the warning label. Overall, those who viewed warnings on red backgrounds reported lower perceived addictiveness than those who viewed warnings on white backgrounds, and e-cigarette users reported lower perceived addictiveness than non-users. Among e-cigarette users, viewing warnings on white backgrounds produced perceptions more similar to non-users. Greater recall was significantly correlated with greater perceived addictiveness. This study provides some of the first evidence that e-cigarette warning label design features including size and coloring affect self-reported attention and content recall.