In the absence of the kind of federal regulations that apply to tobacco cigarettes, advertising for e-cigarettes has increased dramatically in the U.S. in the past several years, especially during programs most likely to be watched by adolescents and young adults, according to a study in the July 2014 Pediatrics.
The study, “Exposure to Electronic Cigarette Television Advertisements Among Youth and Young Adults,” published online June 2, found exposure of young people ages 12 to 17 to e-cigarette ads on TV increased 256 percent from 2011 to 2013.
Young adult (ages 18 to 24) exposure increased 321 percent over the same period. More than 75 percent of the e-cigarette ad exposure to youth occurred on cable networks, including AMC, Country Music Television, Comedy Central, WGN America, TV Land, and VH1. Researchers found that e-cigarette ads appeared on programs like “The Bachelor,” “Big Brother,” and “Survivor” that were among the 100 highest-rated youth programs for the 2012-2013 TV season. More than 80 percent of the advertisements were for a single brand, blu eCigs.
According to the authors, in the absence of evidence-based public health messages regarding the health risks of e-cigarettes, television advertising may be promoting beliefs and behaviors that pose harm.