Examining indirect effects of advertising exposure on young adults’ cannabis and nicotine vaping


Objective:

To examine longitudinal associations between exposure to two types of advertisements (medical/recreational cannabis and e-cigarette retailers [vape shops]) and young adults’ cannabis and nicotine vaping behavior. Positive and negative expectancies for cannabis and vaping nicotine were examined as mediators of these associations.


Method:

Secondary analysis of observational data from a longitudinal cohort of young adults recruited from Southern California (Wave 13: N = 2,411, 56% female, Mage = 23.6). Participants completed web-based surveys annually, reporting on advertising exposure in 2018, expectancies in 2019, and cannabis and nicotine vaping in 2020. Two path models were specified: (a) of past-month cannabis vaping only, nicotine vaping only, and co-use (vs. no vaping) and (b) of single product vaping (vs. co-use). Path analyses modeled direct and indirect associations between variables.


Results:

Controlling for past-month cannabis and nicotine use and other covariates, there were no significant direct associations of advertising exposure with cannabis and/or nicotine vaping. However, the association between cannabis advertising exposure and vaping (cannabis only) was significantly mediated by positive cannabis expectancies (β = 0.02, SE = 0.01, p = .03). Among those who vaped cannabis and/or nicotine in the past month at Wave 13, expectancies did not significantly mediate associations between advertising exposure and single product use (vs. co-use).


Conclusions:

Although exposure to cannabis advertisements may not be directly associated with young adults’ cannabis vaping 2 years later, the effects of advertising exposure may be exerted indirectly by increasing positive beliefs about cannabis. Implications for public health policy are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

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