Big U.S. tobacco companies know what they’re doing; many are developing e-cigarettes; battery-powered implements shaped like cigarettes that contain a heating element and a supply of flavored liquid nicotine. When the element heats the liquid, it vaporizes it, creating “smoke” that the user then inhales. The tobacco companies are marketing these e-cigarettes and teens are a substantial part of the market.
Study Shows Teens Respond to e-Cigarette Ads, Especially on TV
A national study of over 10,000 teenagers who were shown advertisements for tobacco products found that their recall of brand names was higher for e-cigarette products than other traditional items such as conventional cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Of all the types of advertising tested, television ads were the strongest impression-makers.
The lead author of the study, John Pierce of the University of California, San Diego, said, “The imagery used by tobacco companies focuses on the aspirations of young people including having fun, being independent, sophisticated, socially accepted, popular, etc. Those who have an emotive response to these aspirational images are more likely to see use of the product as a way to achieve their aspirations.”
e-Cigarette Use Among Teens Has Increased
Although teen smoking has declined over the past few decades, it has not continued to decline in recent years. Meanwhile, e-cigarette use has grown to 16% of all teens. Ads for e-cigarettes are permitted on television, while traditional cigarette advertising has been banned for decades.
Evidence suggests that the use of e-cigarettes increases the odds that a teen will eventually begin smoking traditional cigarettes. Even without such a cause-and-effect outcome, the question remains whether e-cigarettes themselves cause harm by delivering nicotine into the user’s blood system or whether the inhaled components damage the lungs.
The findings of the advertising receptivity study suggest that non-cigarette ads for tobacco-related products may be damaging for adolescent health. Says Rebecca Collins of Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, California, “This study provides some very provocative data suggesting that the marketing of e-cigarettes, which is not regulated, might be leading to cigarette smoking among teens.”
Information for this article was obtained from Reuters.