How Vaping Marketers Target Youth

Big Tobacco has a long history of marketing its products to youth, and now with the popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping, little has changed.

All of this means we have our work cut out for us even as we make strides in building our youth coalition in the fight against secondhand smoke exposure and improving tobacco control measures.

Sadly, the numbers speak for themselves: e-cigarette use among teens and young adults has skyrocketed, with the U.S. Surgeon General describing the problem as an epidemic. And here’s what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found:

  • Between 2017 to 2019, e-cigarette use more than doubled among high school students, from 11.7 percent to 27.5 percent.
  • During this period, e-cigarette use tripled among middle school students, from 3.3 percent to 10.5 percent.

Meanwhile, companies including Juul, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. and Fontem US, have come under federal scrutiny; last year, the Federal Trade Commission sought to investigate e-cigarette company’s marketing practices, and heavily criticized these companies for enticing youth with candy-like e-cigarettes that come in every flavor ranging from cotton candy to strawberry to latte to bubblegum.

Sweet flavors and prominent advertising have greatly influenced youth. A study shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics showed:

  • Youth exposed to e-cigarette ads in retail stores were twice as likely to begin vaping.
  • Fifty-eight percent of youth reported seeing vaping ads in retail stores.
  • Forty-four percent of youth reported seeing vaping ads on TV.

E-cigarette companies make themselves ubiquitous in young people’s daily lives. Companies including Juul have significant social media presence, advertise at music festivals and events where youth gather, and have been reported to have sponsored scholarships.

We plan on staying on top of this issue with our own outreach campaigns, leveraging our existing community partnerships in reducing secondhand smoke exposure to expand the message to include educating the community about the impact e-cigarettes have had on youth. Our work is just beginning.

Check out our website to see how you can get involved!