E-cigarette manufacturers of pouring tens of millions of dollars into advertising their products and the category of consumers they are targeting, not surprisingly, are teenagers. According to an NBC news report, teenagers are getting the message loud and clear. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report saying that the trend of more and more teens using e-cigarettes is threatening to derail decades of progress in helping prevent kids from taking up smoking.
CDC officials say e-cigarette companies are using the same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get children addicted to nicotine. CDC researchers used a 2014 survey of 22,000 children and teens to find that 68.9 percent of middle and high school students, which is more than 18 million children, see e-cigarette ads. More than half see them advertised in stores, 40 percent online and 36 percent on TV or in movies.
Potential to Cause Serious Harm
Between 2011 and 2014, current e-cigarette use among high school students soared from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent. Among middle school students e-cig use rose from 0.6 percent 3.9 percent. Spending on e-cigarette ads has increased from $6.4 million to $115 million. Advocates say advertising these potentially harmful products to youth must be stopped. They say e-cig ads use many of the same themes that traditional cigarette companies used such as sex, rebellion and independence.
There is also a widespread notion that e-cigarettes are safer than conventional tobacco products. But, several recent studies are showing that this may not be the case. Last year,
a team at the Harvard School of Public Health found many e-cigarette flavors deliver harmful chemicals, including diacetyl, the chemical blamed for causing “popcorn lung” in workers at microwave popcorn packaging plants. Other researchers found chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.
Time for Regulation
It’s high time the government regulates e-cigarettes. It is ridiculous that a child can walk into a store and buy an e-cigarette. While there are restrictions on cigarette commercials, e-cig ads are ubiquitous. An increasing number of studies are showing that these products can be addictive and that they can cause serious health problems including lung damage. As California personal injury attorneys, we are deeply disturbed by this trend and hope the government will step in to regulate these potentially dangerous products.