One of the most contentious debates in the modern world of smoking is the growing popularity of vaping. While some researchers argue that vaping is a far less dangerous and safer method of smoking, others argue that it is just as dangerous and even more threatening in terms of stimulating a nicotine addiction.
Naturally, one of the big concerns for people, especially parents, is the growing proportion of younger adults, like teenagers, getting involved in e-cigarette culture. You might be surprised to know that e-cigarette companies are creating cartoon-based characters and logos as a way of appealing to a younger demographic.
An unregulated domain
In the United States, cartoon marketing for conventional cigarettes and smoking products has been heavily restricted since 1999. Having said this, such restrictions have not been extended to electronic alternatives.
A recent study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence analysed the relationship between various forms of cartoon marketing and the propensity for younger adults to acquire e-smoking habits. Using a sample size of 802 people (young adults aged 18 to 25), participants were shown over 20 images of e-cigarette marketing, with half containing cartoon images and the other half containing non-cartoon images.
While the results were largely inconclusive, the study did find that amongst those who had never used e-cigarettes, individuals who did report recognition of the cartoon images were four times more likely to be susceptible to using e-cigarettes in the future.
Why is this the case?
While the results were largely tenuous, it is important to understand why some younger adults may be getting involved in the vape culture. The rationale for this could be simple; it could simply be because of the appeal of cartoons. Cartoons are an effective way of communicating exciting and fun ideas. It’s why they do so well with children and the marketing of food/snack products for younger demographics. The power of a welcoming character cannot be underestimated, as it can ultimately foster greater levels of product recognition and improve positive connotations.
At the end of the day, while the Drug and Alcohol Dependence study was unable to discern a causality between cartoon marketing and the propensity of future e-cigarette use, there was certainly a correlation between the two variables.