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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC Co-authors Research on Adult E-cigarette Use, Effectiveness of Anti-smoking Digital Video Ads

Mr. Paul Shafer studies media campaigns and policies related to smoking behaviors. He is the co-author of two research studies published this month: one on the reasons that adults use e-cigarettes and another on whether digital video advertising increases the reach of anti-smoking campaigns.

[Photo by Mr. Mike Mozart]

In the first paper, Mr. Shafer, doctoral student in health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and research economist in the Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research at RTI International, worked with co-authors to determine that health-related concerns and a desire to quit smoking were the most common reasons reported by adults for using e-cigarettes.

The full article, “Reasons for current E-cigarette use among U.S. adults,” was published online September 7 in Preventive Medicine.

In order to better understand why e-cigarette use has increased rapidly among adults in the United States, the researchers surveyed a national sample of current e-cigarette users. Through the online surveys, 2,448 participants – 93 percent of whom also were current cigarette smokers – self-reported their reasons for using e-cigarettes.

The most common reasons for e-cigarette use were cessation/health (84.5 percent), consideration of others (71.5 percent), and convenience (56.7 percent). Other reasons included cost, curiosity, simulation of conventional cigarettes and flavoring, with flavoring being more commonly cited by younger adults (18-24 years old).

Based on these findings, the researchers reiterate the public health necessity of providing consumers with accurate information on the health effects of e-cigarettes and taking steps to ensure that flavoring and other unregulated features do not promote nicotine addiction, particularly among young adults.

“Our results suggest that a popular reason for using e-cigarettes is to help smokers quit, despite restrictions against marketing these products as cessation aids,” Mr. Shafer said. “This has inspired new work to determine the prevalence of e-cigarette use as part of a quit attempt by smokers relative to other common quit methods.”

The second article, “Does Digital Video Advertising Increase Population-Level Reach of Multimedia Campaigns? Evidence From the 2013 Tips From Former Smokers Campaign,” was published online September 14 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. In this study, Mr. Shafer and co-authors sought evidence on whether digital advertising – which federal and state agencies in the U.S. increasingly are using to promote public health messages – is cost-efficient and effective as a component of comprehensive health education campaigns.

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