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Advertisements featuring electronic cigarettes with flavours like chocolate and bubble gum are more likely to attract schoolchildren into trying these, says a new study, published in the Tobacco Control journal.

E-cigarettes currently come in around 8,000 different flavours.

Researchers from UK’s Cambridge university assigned 598 schoolchildren to one of three groups: One group was shown ads for candy-flavoured e-cigarettes; a second group ads for non-flavoured e-cigarettes; and a third, control group, no ads. The schoolchildren were then asked questions to gauge issues such as the appeal of e-cigarettes and tobacco, the perceived harm of smoking, how much they liked the ads, and how interested they might be in buying and trying e-cigarettes.

The children shown the ads for candy-flavoured e-cigarettes expressed a greater interest in buying and trying e-cigarettes than their peers. But this made no significant difference to the overall appeal of tobacco or e-cigarettes.

“We’re cautiously optimistic from our results that e-cigarette ads don’t make tobacco smoking more attractive, but we’re concerned that ads for e-cigarettes with flavours that might appeal to schoolchildren could encourage them to try the products," says Milica Vasiljevic from the department of public health and primary care at Cambridge.

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