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Exposure to tobacco marketing in bars predicts subsequent use of multiple tobacco products among non- tobacco- using college students

Young adults have been a target for tobacco companies promoting cigarette and smokeless tobacco products. The current study aims to look at how marketing effects young adult’s tobacco use. Researchers look at if exposure to this marketing along with samples in bars and nightclubs have a correlation to product use among college students.

The study included 1,406 college students at 24 different college universities. They had to respond at least “rarely” to visiting bars or nightclubs. Participants were asked first how often at a bar/nightclub free tobacco products or electronic nicotine delivery systems were available. They also asked about product advertisement in the bars or nightclubs and if they interacted with a representative for these products there. Six months later participants were asked about past 30-day tobacco use. Overall, 61% of participants had seen a tobacco advertisement and around 25% said they had seen either free samples or talked to a tobacco representative at the nightclub or bar.

At the start of the study 53% did not use any products and the most common used products at both points of the study were cigarettes. The data showed that free samples along with tobacco industry representatives did not have an impact on those students already using a product but did on those who did not. Researchers did not find that tobacco advertisements had any significant effect on participants. Researchers make a point that while advertising at night clubs or bars was not found to be a predictor of tobacco use, advertising in other settings such as a tobacco retail outlet may have more of an impact. This study shows that while tobacco companies claim their marketing is only targeting those who already use the product, tobacco marketing may have an impact on young adults previously not using the product.

Take Away: The current study aims to look at how marketing effects young adult’s tobacco use. 1,406 college students were included that said they at least “rarely” visited bars or nightclubs. They were then asked if free tobacco products were made available at the nightclubs or bars along with advertisement and tobacco representative presence. 6 months later they asked participants about past 30-day tobacco use. The data showed that free samples along with tobacco industry representatives did not have an impact on those students already using a product but did on those who did not. Researchers did not find that tobacco advertisements had any significant effect on participants. This study shows that while tobacco companies claim their marketing is only targeting those who already use the product, it may have an impact on young adults previously not using the product.

Herrera, A. L., Pasch, K. E., Marti, C. N., Loukas, A., & Perry, C. (2019). Exposure to tobacco marketing in bars predicts subsequent use of multiple tobacco products among non-tobacco-using college students. Tobacco Control. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2019-055195

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