E-cigarette ads are reaching middle and high school students

January 06, 2016

CDC Report ~ January 5, 2016 ~

About 7 in 10 middle and high school students – more than 18 million young people – see e-cigarette advertising in stores, online, in newspapers and magazines, or on television and in movies, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report. E-cigarette ads use many of the same themes – independence, rebellion and sex – used to sell cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products. Advertising of tobacco products has been shown to cause youth to start using those products. The unrestricted marketing of e-cigarettes and dramatic increases in their use by youth could reverse decades of progress in preventing tobacco use among youth. Efforts by states, communities, and others could reduce this exposure.

CDC Vital Signs. E-cigarette use among youth is rising as e-cigarette advertising grows.

E-cigarettes typically deliver nicotine, which at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use. In 2014, e-cigarettes became the most-used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarette use. From 2011 to 2014, current e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent, and among middle school students from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent. Spending on e-cigarette advertising rose from $6.4 million in 2011 to an estimated $115 million in 2014.

“The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “I hope all of us can agree that kids should not use e-cigarettes.”

Here’s what states and communities can do to fight e-cigarette and other tobacco product use by young people:

  • fund tobacco prevention and control programs at CDC-recommended levels to prevent youth use of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes;
  • work to reduce youth exposure to e-cigarette ads by limiting where and how e-cigarettes and all tobacco products, are sold, including in stores and online; and
  • support efforts to implement and sustain proven youth tobacco prevention actions such as tobacco price increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, and high-impact mass media campaigns.

To learn more, visit the Vital Signs on e-cigarette ads and youth.

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