New Reports Highlight Increased Youth Exposure to E-Cigarette Ads; Misperceptions of Tobacco’s Health Harms

March 15, 2018

Washington, D.C.—Two reports released today highlight potentially dangerous findings among U.S. middle and high school students when it comes to advertising and perceptions of electronic cigarette and other tobacco products.

According to this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly four in five U.S. middle and high school students were exposed to e-cigarette advertising in 2016; a 13 percent increase in just two years. Youth were most apt to see such ads in retail stores, followed by internet or television ads, as well as newspapers and magazines spots.

This advertising uptick comes at the same time as a report in the journal Pediatrics finds the majority—three in five—youth e-cigarette users and cigar users don’t consider themselves tobacco users. While the majority of youth users view tobacco use as harmful, not all perceived the product they use as harmful. For instance, only 22 percent of youth e-cigarette users perceived their use of such products as harmful.

A statement from ACS CAN President Chris Hansen follows:

“These reports offer further evidence of the need for strong FDA oversight of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and for increased investment in proven tobacco prevention and control programs.

“The ubiquitous advertising and marketing of electronic cigarettes to kids, including the use of fruit and candy flavoring, is having a potentially dangerous public health effect. Youth are increasingly using these heavily advertised products and being misled to think the products are safe. This is especially worrisome considering the scientific evidence showing nicotine’s damaging effects on adolescent brain development. Without a robust regulatory and public health education effort our country risks losing the progress we’ve made in reducing tobacco’s devastating effects.

“We urge FDA to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to the full extent of its authority and for Congress to protect FDA’s role in such regulation while also fully funding critical tobacco prevention and cessation efforts through the CDC Office of Smoking and Health in the final FY 18 budget. Together these actions would help save lives and prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to dangerous tobacco products.

Media Contacts

Allison Miller
Director, Media Advocacy
Washington, D.C.
Alissa Crispino
Vice President, Media and Advocacy Communications
Washington, D.C.