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Nicotine Tob Res. 2018 Jun 2. doi: 10.1093/ntr/nty112. [Epub ahead of print]

Exposure to the Tobacco Power Wall Increases Adolescents' Willingness to Use E-cigarettes in the Future.

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RAND Corporation, Pittsburgh, PA.



Adolescents' e-cigarette use is now more prevalent than their combustible cigarette use. Youth are exposed to e-cigarette advertising at retail point-of-sale (POS) locations via the tobacco power wall (TPW), but no studies have assessed whether exposure to the TPW influences susceptibility to future e-cigarette use.


The study was conducted in the RAND StoreLab (RSL), a life-sized replica of a convenience store developed to experimentally evaluate how POS advertising influences tobacco use risk under simulated shopping conditions. In a between-subjects experiment, 160 adolescents (M age=13.82; 53% female, 56% White) were randomized to shop in the RSL under one of two conditions: 1) TPW located behind the cashier (n=80); or 2) TPW hidden behind an opaque wall (n=80). Youths rated willingness to use e-cigarettes ("If one of your best friends were to offer you an e-cigarette, would you try it?"; 1=definitely not, 10=definitely yes) before and after exposure. Linear regression assessed differences in pre-post changes in willingness to use across conditions.


Ever use of e-cigarettes was 5%; use of cigarettes was 8%; use of both e-cigarettes and cigarettes was 4%. There were no differences between TPW conditions on these or other baseline variables (e.g., age, gender).  Compared to the hidden condition, TPW exposure was associated with greater increases in willingness to use e-cigarettes in the future (B= 1.15, SE=0.50, p = .02).


Efforts to regulate visibility of the TPW at POS may help to reduce youths' susceptibility to initiating e-cigarettes as well as conventional tobacco products like cigarettes.


Past work suggests that exposure to the tobacco power wall in common retail settings, like convenience stores, may increase adolescents' susceptibility to smoking cigarettes. This experimental study builds upon prior research to show that exposure to the tobacco power wall at retail point-of-sale similarly increases adolescents' willingness to use e-cigarettes in the future. Efforts to regulate the visibility of the tobacco power wall in retail settings may help to reduce youths' susceptibility to initiating nicotine and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.


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