Advertisements Increase E-cigarette Use Among Younger Populations

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E-cigarettes, which contain nicotine and other toxic substances, are harmful to the developing brain and respiratory health of young people. In this study, researchers from the NIMHD Intramural Research Program investigated a possible cause of the rise in e-cigarette use in this population: encountering e-cigarette advertisements (marketing). The results showed that youth (ages 12–17) and young adults (ages 18–24) who had never smoked but came across e-cigarette marketing were more likely to use e-cigarettes in the future than those who did not encounter e-cigarette marketing at all. This was true especially for those youth who initially reported no interest in experimenting with e-cigarettes.

The researchers used data of youth and young adult respondents from wave 2 (2014–2015) and wave 3 (2015–2016) of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. To be included in the current study, the respondents should not have used any type of tobacco product previously. Respondents completed a questionnaire that helped the researchers understand how often they came across e-cigarette marketing during the study period and whether they were interested in trying e-cigarettes. They also provided information about their race/ethnicity and other social characteristics.

Respondents who were interested in trying e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study were also more likely to have encountered e-cigarette marketing and used e-cigarettes by the end of the study. The respondents from the youth group who initially reported no interest in using e-cigarettes eventually tended to take them up, depending on how often they encountered the marketing. African American youth and White young adults were more likely to have encountered e-cigarette marketing compared to other racial/ethnic groups.

For younger populations who have never used tobacco products, e-cigarette use increases the likelihood of eventually taking up combustible cigarettes. Results of this research identify exposure to e-cigarette marketing as a reason for future e-cigarette use among tobacco-naïve youth and young adults.

Chen-Sankey, J.C., Unger, J.B., Bansal-Travers, M., Niederdeppe, J., Bernat, E., & Choi K. (2019). E-cigarette Marketing Exposure and Subsequent Experimentation Among Youth and Young Adults. Pediatrics, 144(5). DOI: