A new research published in Tobacco Control demonstrates that little cigars and cigarillos are being advertised on one of the world’s most popular video websites, YouTube. Public health specialists at Legacy – the non-profit responsible for the highly acclaimed youth smoking prevention campaign – say that these messages inserted in the videos can impact youth.
“This research is the first to find out how these tobacco products are being represented online, where it has the possibility to reach billions of people,” said Amanda Richardson, Senior Director for Research and Evaluation at Legacy. “These videos may have an effect on uptake of little cigars and cigarillos by youth,” she added.
Little cigars and cigarillos have become a controversial concern in tobacco control, as these tobacco products are very identical to cigarettes, but with fruit-flavors and low prices attractive to youth. Absence of control of these products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – in comparison to cigarettes – as well as tax classifications has made these products accessible and attractive to consumers. National information on prevalence presents facts of popularity of little cigars and cigarillos with youth. In the last decade, cigarette use rates have dropped while little cigars and cigarillo rates have elevated significantly, and young adults aged between 18-25 ages have the maximum prevalence rates of little cigars and cigarillo use within the past month.
The research, “YouTube: a promotional vehicle for little cigars and cigarillos?”, offers the first monitoring facts of little cigars and cigarillos-related videos on YouTube, and identified that consumers are being subjected to information advertising the use of these tobacco products.
Scientists analyzed and categorized the most viewed and relevant YouTube videos related to little cigars and cigarillos, gathered using 7 common little cigars and cigarillos search terms and revealed:
– 77 percent advertised the use of little cigars and cigarillos, and the remainder were mostly neutral (20 percent;
– Some themes about little cigars and cigarillos were described including where to buy these products, the variety of fruit flavors, and the fact they are cheaper than cigarettes.
The scientists also determined that the videos were first seen by male youth in the United States and Canada, and most videos were amateur. Furthermore, the marketing actions of the cigarette makers were apparent as some video participants reported receiving free products, and provided links directly back to the companies.
“Youth seem to be the main audience of YouTube videos advertising little cigars and cigarillos, which is not unexpected since this demographic uses little cigars and cigarillos at the highest rates,” said Donna Vallone, Senior Vice President for Research and Evaluation at Legacy.
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