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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.

SUBMITTER: Garrison KA 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5948598 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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