Exposure to electronic cigarette television advertisements among youth and young adults

Pediatrics. 2014 Jul;134(1):e29-36. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0269. Epub 2014 Jun 2.


Background and objective: Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration does not regulate electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) marketing unless it is advertised as a smoking cessation aid. To date, the extent to which youth and young adults are exposed to e-cigarette television advertisements is unknown. The objective of this study was to analyze trends in youth and young adult exposure to e-cigarette television advertisements in the United States.

Methods: Nielsen data on television household audiences' exposure to e-cigarette advertising across US markets were examined by calendar quarter, year, and sponsor.

Results: Youth exposure to television e-cigarette advertisements, measured by target rating points, increased 256% from 2011 to 2013. Young adult exposure increased 321% over the same period. More than 76% of all youth e-cigarette advertising exposure occurred on cable networks and was driven primarily by an advertising campaign for 1 e-cigarette brand.

Conclusions: E-cigarette companies currently advertise their products to a broad audience that includes 24 million youth. The dramatic increase in youth and young adult television exposure between 2011 and 2013 was driven primarily by a large advertising campaign on national cable networks. In the absence of evidence-based public health messaging, the current e-cigarette television advertising may be promoting beliefs and behaviors that pose harm to the public health. If current trends in e-cigarette television advertising continue, awareness and use of e-cigarettes are likely to increase among youth and young adults.

Keywords: adolescents; advertising; e-cigarettes; electronic cigarettes; media; smoking; students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Nebulizers and Vaporizers
  • Smoking*
  • Television*
  • Young Adult