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Tobacco and electronic cigarette cues for smoking and vaping: an online experimental study

  • Blackwell, Anna K. M.1
  • De-loyde, Katie1
  • Brocklebank, Laura A.1
  • Maynard, Olivia M.1
  • Marteau, Theresa M.2
  • Hollands, Gareth J.2
  • Fletcher, Paul C.3, 4
  • Attwood, Angela S.1
  • Morris, Richard W.5
  • Munafò, Marcus R.1, 6
  • 1 University of Bristol, 12a Priory Road, Bristol, BS8 1TU, UK , Bristol (United Kingdom)
  • 2 University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0SR, UK , Cambridge (United Kingdom)
  • 3 University of Cambridge, Douglas House, Cambridge, CB2 8AH, UK , Cambridge (United Kingdom)
  • 4 University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ, UK , Cambridge (United Kingdom)
  • 5 Bristol Medical School: Population Health Sciences, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol, BS8 2PS, UK , Bristol (United Kingdom)
  • 6 University of Bristol, Oakfield House Oakfield Grove, Bristol, BS8 2BN, UK , Bristol (United Kingdom)
Published Article
BMC Research Notes
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Jan 15, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13104-020-4899-3
Springer Nature


ObjectiveThis study examined whether exposure to smoking and vaping cues the urge to smoke or vape. It extends previous studies on first-generation cigalikes (visually similar to cigarettes) and second-generation devices (visually similar to pens) by including third-generation tank system devices (larger bulky units). In an online experiment, participants were randomly assigned to view one of four videos, which included smoking, vaping (cigalike or tank system), or neutral cues. The primary outcome was urge to smoke. Secondary outcomes were urge to vape, desire to smoke and vape, and intention to quit or remain abstinent from smoking.ResultsUK adults varying in smoking (current or former) and vaping (user or non-user) status (n = 1120) completed the study: 184 (16%) failed study attention checks meaning 936 were included in the final analysis. Urges to smoke were similar across cue groups. Urges to vape were higher following exposure to vaping compared to neutral cues. There was no clear evidence of an interaction between cue group and smoking or vaping status. The lack of cueing effects on smoking urges is inconsistent with previous research, raising questions about the ability to assess craving in online settings.

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