An alarming report from the CDC warns that e-cigarette advertisements in the U.S. are heavily geared toward middle and high school students.
Electronic cigarettes have caused quite a stir in recent years, as smokers seeking to kick the habit have taken to puffing on vaporized nicotine instead. According to a Tech Times report, however, a recent analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that advertisements for electronic cigarettes are disproportionately aimed towards teenagers.
The report states that tens of millions of dollars are spent each year by electronic cigarette companies to advertise to teens. The CDC says that roughly 70 percent of middle and high school students, or almost 18 million teens, have been exposed to advertisements for e-cigarettes.
The advertisements bear a strong resemblance to the uncensored cigarette adds of the 20th century, touting themes of rebellion, sex, and independence to potential customers. While the tobacco industry faces stringent regulations about what it can and cannot say in advertisements, the realm of e-cigarettes remains largely unregulated.
According to CDC Director 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. I hope all can agree that kids should not use e-cigarettes.”
The CDC’s report drew data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which revealed how many teens were being exposed to e-cigarette ads from one or multiple media sources. Between 2011 and 2014, spending on e-cigarette advertisements grew from $6.4 million to a whopping $115 million.
The CDC suggested that states and counties take measures to limit the availability of e-cigarettes to teenagers, which have not yet been scientifically proven to be a safe alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. Many anti-smoking advocates fear that a lax attitude towards e-cigarettes could hasten the transition into regular tobacco use.
While the debate over e-cigarettes safety for adults continues, the CDC hopes to discourage future generations of smokers by targeting e-cigarettes first.
A press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlining the recent report can be found here.