E-cigarettes have become the most popular nicotine product among young people, with evidence that they are heavily marketed to youth and young adults. Yet, the marketing of e-cigarettes remains unregulated, and the impact of such marketing on young people’s e-cigarette use is not fully understood. For a study published in Pediatrics, our research team examined the impact of e-cigarette marketing on subsequent e-cigarette initiation among two large cohorts of youth (aged 12-17 in 2014) and young adults (aged 18-29 in 2014). We selected only those youth (n=2,288) and young adults (n=2,423) who had never used e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study in fall 2014.

We asked the e-cigarette naïve participants if they saw advertising and promotions for e-cigarettes via five media channels, including TV, radio/internet radio, billboards, the internet, and in retail stores. The impact of reported exposure to e-cigarette marketing across these channels on subsequent e-cigarette initiation up to 2.5 years later was then analyzed, with adjustments for well-known correlates of tobacco marketing and tobacco use, including sensation seeking, peer e-cigarette use, and the use of other tobacco products.

Our team found that e-cigarette-naïve youth and young adults were more likely to report seeing e-cigarette marketing at retail stores than on any other channels and that recalled exposure to e-cigarette marketing at retail stores increased risk for e-cigarette initiation among both youth (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.99; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.25–3.17) and young adults (aOR = 1.30; 95% CI: 1.05–1.61). Recalled exposure to e-cigarette marketing on TV among young adults was the only other predictor of e-cigarette initiation (aOR = 1.29; 95% CI: 1.03–1.63).

These findings underscore the need for physicians to talk to patients and their families about the role of marketing on e-cigarette use. Physicians can also educate patients about the potential harms associated with e-cigarette use, particularly exposure to nicotine. The developing brains of youth and young adults are especially vulnerable to nicotine, and long-term use may result in addiction as well as problems with impulse control, mood regulation, attention, and learning.   

References

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Marketing and Initiation Among Youth and Young Adults

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/144/3/e20183601?sso=1&sso_redirect_count=1&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-