29th November 2019, Volume 132 Number 1506

Niveditha Gurram, George Thomson, Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek

E-cigarette or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) heat e-liquids that contain compounds including nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and flavours to form an aerosol that users inhale. ENDS include ‘pod…

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Summary

New Zealand urgently needs effective regulation that prevents the seductive marketing of vape prod-ucts to young people. Few of New Zealand vape marketing websites, or their easily accessible Face-book or Twitter accounts, had health or addiction warnings. Two of the most popular websites had over 170 fruit/candy flavoured vape refills.

Abstract

Aim

To examine the characteristics of the online marketing environment and the presence of safeguards to protect children from e-cigarette (ENDS) experimentation and uptake in New Zealand.

Method

The search engine ‘Google Chrome’ was used to identify New Zealand vendor websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts. ‘YouTube NZ’ was searched for videos related to ENDS.

Results

A total of 59 New Zealand vendor websites were identified; of these, only 10% (6/59) required age proof before purchase. A majority (68%) had no detectable health warnings, and only 25% mentioned nicotine addiction. Most (92%) of the websites used at least one social networking or video sharing site in their marketing. The lowest ENDS price advertised in the websites reviewed was $NZ9.95 (US$6.60) and the cheapest 10ml e-liquid bottle was $NZ3.50. All 60 accessible Facebook accounts, and nearly all (96%; 25/26) accessible Twitter accounts associated with New Zealand vendors, had no health or addiction warnings. Of the 52 accessible YouTube videos that had links to New Zealand vendor websites, none had a health or addiction warning.

Conclusion

This study suggests that the online marketing of e-cigarettes (ENDS) by New Zealand vendors lacks adequate information for consumers and does not effectively prevent access by children and young people. Careful monitoring of ENDS online marketing is required to inform policies that reduce the risk that children and non-smokers may experiment with ENDS. International health bodies and government policy-makers should actively consider regulations designed to reduce the risks that online ENDS marketing appeals to youth and adult non-smokers, and promotes experimentation.

Author Information

Niveditha Gurram, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; 
George Thomson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; 
Nick Wilson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington; 
Janet Hoek, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Acknowledgements

We thank the staff of the Otago University Department of Public Health for their assistance with running this research project. 

Correspondence

Dr George Thomson, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

Correspondence Email

george.thomson@otago.ac.nz

Competing Interests

Nil.

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