E-cigarette TV ads to teens skyrocketing
It’s been years since traditional cigarette ads have been seen on TV. These types of ads were banned in the U.S. in 1971. E-cigarettes are a whole different story and aren’t held to the same standard. In fact, according to a new study, a disturbing trend has taken hold because of this. In the last two years, TV ads for e-cigarettes have grown twofold for youth and threefold for young adults.
Published online in early June in the journal Pediatrics, the study revealed that from 2011 to 2013, e-cigarette ads that youth ages 12 to 17 years old were exposed to jumped by 256 percent. In that same period, exposure of young adults ages 18 to 24 years old to e-cigarette ads jumped 321 percent.
A large majority of the ads in 2013, nearly 80 percent, came from the brand blue Cigs, whose parent company is cigarette manufacturer Lorillard Inc. Researchers examined Nielsen data from TV household audiences’ exposure to e-cigarette ads across U.S. markets, including cable networks and programs. The results were examined by calendar quarter, year and sponsor.
Cable networks that featured these ads included AMC, Comedy Central, Country Music Television, TV Land, VH1 and WGN America. These ads also appeared on TV shows including The Bachelor, Big Brother and Survivor, which were among the 100 highest-rated youth programs during the 2012-2013 TV season.
Co-author of the study, Jennifer Duke, expressed concern about the consequences of these types of ads in a statement. “If the current trends continue, awareness and use of e-cigarettes will increase among youth and young adults,” said Duke, senior research public health analyst with RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
“And unfortunately, in the absence of evidence-based public health messages regarding the health risks of e-cigarettes, television advertising is promoting beliefs and behaviors that pose harm to youth and young adults and raise public health concerns,” Duke added.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in a study that as of 2012, nearly 1.8 million middle and high school students had used e-cigarettes. Nearly 10 percent of those students who have tried e-cigarettes reported having never used traditional cigarettes.
“E-cigarette companies advertise to a broad TV audience that includes 24 million youth,” Duke pointed out. “Given the potential harm of e-cigarettes to youth and their potential as a gateway to using cigarettes and other tobacco products, the FDA needs to regulate the positive images of e-cigarettes on television and other venues where youth view advertising and marketing like they do for traditional cigarettes,” she said.
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