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E-Cigarette Ads Increase Likelihood of Teen and Young Adult Vaping

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Electronic cigarettes.

AUSTIN, Texas — E-cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among teens and young adults today, surpassing cigarettes in 2014 with 4.9% of middle school students and 20.8% of high school students reportedly vaping. According to a new study published in Pediatrics, unregulated marketing of e-cigarettes may be associated with their growing popularity.

The study followed 2,288 teens and 2,423 young adults (ages 18-29) across metropolitan Texas who reported having never vaped in 2014. Researchers found that those who remembered seeing in-store and TV e-cigarette marketing were significantly more likely to begin using e-cigarettes up to 2.5 years later, with an increased likelihood of 30% for young adults. Results held even after controlling for the effects of the use of other tobacco products and vaping by peers.

The study was led by The University of Texas at Austin Kinesiology and Health Education (KHE) Professor Alexandra Loukas and co-authored by KHE Associate Professor Keryn Pasch at the Texas Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science on Youth and Young Adults, and researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health in Houston.

“Marketing for e-cigarettes is currently unregulated, which has allowed in-store and television advertising to proliferate,” Loukas said. “Our research shows that there’s a clear relationship between the types and placement of e-cigarette ads on the increased likelihood of youth and young adult use of these products. More research is needed.”

The study, “Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems Marketing and Initiation Among Youth and Young Adults,” was published in the September 2019 edition of Pediatrics. View a video interview of Alexandra Loukas discussing the alarming rise in vaping among youths, produced by the College of Education.