An atypical study led by a group of researchers has recenetly found that e-cigarette and e-liquid advertisements that feature cartoons are more likely to attract young people to nicotine products. The research which first appeared in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence reveals that recognition of cartoon images among those who had never used e-cigarettes was positively associated, with people expecting that the product would taste good and enhance socialising.
Jon-Patrick Allem, co-leader of the study, in a statement said, "Among young adults who had never used e-cigarettes, we found a significant effect of cartoon-based marketing on their likelihood of using the products in the future".
"Cartoons appear to be very effective at increasing susceptibility to use e-cigarettes among individuals who aren't using them to begin with," Allem added.
To reach the decision, researchers looked at two different sets of young adults who completed online surveys assessing e-cigarette use. For the first study, 778 participants with an average age of 24 years looked at several e-liquid package images with and without cartoons and were asked whether they recognized the products.
While in the second study, 522 participants with an average age of 30 looked at several e-liquid images with and without cartoons and rated the appeal of the products. Among those who self-reported that they had never used the product before, were more likely to be susceptible to future use.
"Cartoon imagery used by some companies are part of the constellation of variables that make individuals susceptible to future use of e-cigarettes," said Matt Kirkpatrick, another co-leader of the study.
"The data in this most recent study suggest a need for policies to extend restrictions on cartoon-based marketing of cigarettes to include marketing for e-cigarettes," Allem said.
(With inputs from agencies)