E-Cigarette Marketing Is Working

CDC says use of emerging tobacco products has grown dramatically among young people in recent years.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Chloe Lamb enjoys an electronic cigarette at the Vapor Shark store on September 6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. E-cigarette manufacturers have seen a surge in popularity for the battery-powered devices that give users a vapor filled experience with nicotine and other additives, like flavoring. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
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Sophie Novack
Nov. 14, 2013, 11:54 a.m.

Emer­ging to­bacco products like e-ci­gar­ettes and hookahs are rap­idly grow­ing in pop­ular­ity among middle and high school stu­dents, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port re­leased Thursday by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion.

Data from the 2012 Na­tion­al Youth To­bacco Sur­vey shows cur­rent e-ci­gar­ette use rose from 0.6 per­cent in 2011 to 1.1 per­cent in 2012 among middle-school stu­dents, and from 1.5 per­cent to 2.8 per­cent among high school stu­dents. Hookah use rose from 4.1 per­cent to 5.4 per­cent among high school stu­dents.

Mean­while, there was no sig­ni­fic­ant de­cline in ci­gar­ette smoking or over­all to­bacco use among stu­dents. 

A com­mon cri­ti­cism of e-ci­gar­ettes is that they are used in tan­dem with, or as a gate­way to, oth­er products, such as stand­ard to­bacco ci­gar­ettes, which are gen­er­ally con­sidered more harm­ful. The fact that e-ci­gar­ette and hookah use are on the rise without a de­cline in to­bacco ci­gar­ette us­age would in­dic­ate that many are dual users.

“A large por­tion of kids who use to­bacco are smoking products oth­er than ci­gar­ettes, in­clud­ing ci­gars and hookahs, which are sim­il­arly dan­ger­ous,” said Dr. Tim McAfee, dir­ect­or of CDC’s Of­fice on Smoking and Health. 

The re­port states that the in­creased us­age could be a res­ult of in­creased mar­ket­ing and avail­ab­il­ity of the products, and the per­cep­tion they may be less harm­ful al­tern­at­ives.

Law­makers ex­pressed con­cern re­cently that e-ci­gar­ette com­pan­ies are mar­ket­ing dir­ectly to youths, through glitzy, sexed-up ad­vert­ising and fla­vors like cook­ies-and-cream.

E-ci­gar­ettes and hookah are not cur­rently reg­u­lated like stand­ard to­bacco products, so mar­ket­ing is not lim­ited. The Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion has said it in­tends to is­sue a rule that ex­tends the “to­bacco products” um­brella to these cat­egor­ies as well, but such a reg­u­la­tion has not yet been is­sued.  

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