Examining how changes in provincial policy on vape marketing impacted the distribution of vaping advertisements near secondary schools in London, Ontario
Canadian Journal of Public Health
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Objectives: On January 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario passed a regulation banning vaping advertisements by retailers, apart from specialty shops. A motivation for this ban was to limit youth exposure to vaping advertisements. The primary goal of this research was to evaluate the impact of this ban on the number and density of vaping advertisements surrounding secondary schools. Additionally, we examined whether the number of vaping advertisements varied by school socio-demographic characteristics. Methods: This study used a pre-post design. Audits were conducted December 2019 (pre-ban) and again January to February 2020 (post-ban), to identify vaping advertisements within 800 m surrounding secondary schools (n = 18) in London, Ontario. Results: Prior to the ban, there were 266 vaping advertisements within 800 m of secondary schools. After the ban, this was reduced to 58, a 78.2% reduction. The mean number of vaping advertisements surrounding schools significantly decreased from 18.1 before the ban to 3.6 after the ban (p < 0.001). A significant positive correlation was found, prior to the ban, between the number of vaping advertisements surrounding schools and school-level residential instability (r = 0.42, p = 0.02). After the ban, no significant correlations were found between the number of vaping advertisements and school socio-demographic characteristics. Conclusion: The provincial ban of vaping advertisements in select retail settings significantly reduced the number of vaping advertisements in the areas surrounding secondary schools in London, Ontario. The ban also reduced socio-demographic inequities in youths’ potential exposure to marketing of vaping products. Continued monitoring of the geographic accessibility and promotion of vaping products is warranted.