Public health officials worry about what exposure does to youth
Written by Lauren Turville
A recent study by CDC researchers shows that approximately 70% of teens are exposed to e-cigarette advertisements. Students in middle and high school are frequently seeing these ads from multiple sources including in stores, online, in movies or on TV, or in newspapers or magazines, and researchers wrote that this exposure may contribute to the increased use of e-cigarettes among youth.
This matters because the long-term consequences of using e-cigarettes aren’t completely understood. Some argue that e-cigarettes are healthier and less addictive than normal cigarettes, but other research suggests that the chemicals in e-cigarettes may be dangerous. But not all e-cigarettes use the same chemicals. One e-cig company markets itself by saying that “not all e-cigs are created equal. 99% of e-cig and e-liquid products today are made in China with no regulations. These products often include acidic, synthetic ingredients…” They go on to say that their products are regulated and have safe ingredients.
These chemicals aside, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, making them, like conventional cigarettes, addictive. Besides being addictive, nicotine can cause a number of health hazards. The National Institutes of Health released a study showing that nicotine may increase risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, decrease immune response, and pose ill impacts on reproductive health. These negative effects make e-cigarette use something to think twice about.
Further complicating the issue is that different e-cigarettes vary in the amount of nicotine delivered. Additionally, how one uses e-cigarette changes how much nicotine enters the body.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that a shocking 18 million young adults in the United States see e-cigarette advertising, something that worries the director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden.
“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,” he said in a statement.
He says these ads rely on the same themes: independence, rebellion, and sex.
E-cigarette use among young people is on the rise, making these ads a target for public health officials. The study, using data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, shows a correlation between advertisement exposure and e-cigarette use. Additionally, it is reported that advertising spending has increased from around $6.4 million in 2011 to $115 million in 2014. The authors of the study explained that advertising is dangerous because it has been shown to prompt experimentation in young adults and to increase and maintain use among those already using.