With so many smoking products on the market today, have you noticed an uptick in the advertising of such products? Whether that uptick is real (which is likely) or just your perception, what are children and early adolescents who have not yet started smoking thinking of these ads? Do they notice them? Are they influenced by them? To smoke out the answer to this question, Pierce et al. (10.1542/peds.2016-3353) report this week on the results of their interviewing 10,751 teens across the country who had never used a tobacco product. These teens were shown advertisements for cigarettes, e-cigarettes, smokeless products, and cigars and were asked if they had a reaction to these ads from being “non-receptive” to “highly receptive” if they liked the ad or were very familiar with it. Sadly, almost half the group were highly receptive on at least one of the ads with e-cigarettes being favorably advertised to about a third of those interviewed, with cigarettes appealing to a quarter, smokeless tobacco to almost a fifth, and even cigars appealing to about a sixth of those interviewed. E-cigarette ads on television had the highest recall. When the teens were asked if they were likely to try smoking, the more receptive the teens were to the ads, regardless of the product, the more likely they were to want to try smoking.
Do you talk about advertising to your pre-teen and teen patients? Do you make an effort to help them be more aware of how luring advertisements can be or educate patients on their knowledge of the risks of smoking any of these products no matter how attractive they may appear in ads? This study should light up your desire to do so and if you need more of a push to spend some time talking about the role of advertising on susceptibility to smoking, check out the commentary by Dr. Rebecca Collins and Steven Martino (10.1542/peds.2017-0887) from the RAND Corporation, who specialize in public policy health-related research who provide further reasons to steer your teen patients away from advertising that is certainly hazardous to their health and wellbeing.