E-Cigarette Ads Target Millions of Teens, Govt. Says


The U.S. government is criticizing electronic cigarette manufacturers for targeting teens. Companies spent $115 million to advertise e-cigarettes in 2014. (Photo: Getty Images)

E-cigarette advertisements are responsible for millions of U.S. children and teens using the nicotine-delivering devices, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“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,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said during a phone call with press today (Jan. 5).


Teen use of e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014. During the same time period, advertising dollars spent on e-cigarette advertising nearly doubled. (Graph: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Youth e-cigarette use has increased drastically in the past several years. Between 2011 and 2013, the number of middle and high school students using e-cigs tripled, according to government surveys. More recently, the popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers has skyrocketed. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the proportion of high school students using e-cigarettes increased threefold between 2013 and 2014 alone.

During the same time period, advertising for e-cigarettes has boomed. In 2011, advertisers spent $6.4 million on e-cig advertisements in newspapers, magazines, television, and online, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded. By 2013, that figure topped $60 million, according to AdAge. And in 2014, according to a CDC statement, advertisers spent $115 million promoting e-cigs.

Related: E-Cigarette Flavorings Linked to Lung Diseases

“Kids should not be using e-cigarettes and yet two-thirds of kids in this country are seeing e-cigarette ads,” Frieden says, referring to a data analysis that found 68.9 percent of middle and high school students have been exposed to e-cigarette advertising.


Millions of children and teens see e-cigarette ads from various sources, government survey data shows. (Infographic: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Two million high school students and 450,000 middle school students used e-cigarettes in the past month, according to government data from a 2014 survey. In fact, teens are now more likely to use e-cigarettes than they are to smoke conventional cigarettes, the data shows.

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