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Watching E-Cigarette Ads May Increase Desire for Tobacco, Study Shows

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A new study shows that watching e-cigarette advertisements can actually increase one’s desire to smoke traditional–or tobacco–cigarettes.

The study, which was carried out by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, involved 301 people who smoke every day, 272 people who smoke occasionally, and 311 former smokers. Participants were asked to watch a series of e-cigarette commercials, some of which showed people “vaping” (or smoking e-cigarettes).

Participants were then asked if they felt an urge to smoke traditional cigarettes. The daily smokers reported feeling a greater desire to smoke, while the former smokers were less likely to report feeling a need to smoke. The intermittent smokers reported no significant change in their urge to smoke.

The University of Pennsylvania researchers say the study helps us understand how e-cigarettes affect the human brain. Still, they acknowledge that more research needs to be done.

“The jury is still out on the efficacy of e-cigarettes to reduce tobacco use and tobacco smoking,” notes study author Joseph N. Cappella. “If it turns out to be the case that e-cigarettes are a good vehicle for reducing tobacco addiction, then we not want to stand in the way of advertising…but it doesn’t mean we couldn’t carry out that advertising without the vaping cues in order to not have these deleterious consequences.”

One thing’s for certain: the study won’t make e-cigarettes any less controversial. The devices, which many smokers claim can actually help them quit smoking traditional cigarettes, are steadily becoming more popular. Today, experts say it’s a billion-dollar industry, with e-cigarettes having the potential to outsell tobacco products within ten years’ time.

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