Since e-cigarettes arrived on the market, there's been a lot of buzz about them. In the past several years, many myths, safety concerns, and questions have come up. Let's review some key facts.
E-cigarettes are a 2.5 billion dollar business in the United States. As of 2014, the e-cigarette industry spent $125 million a year to advertise their products and used many of the techniques that made traditional cigarettes such a popular consumer product.
Marketing and advertising of conventional tobacco products like cigarettes are proven to cause youth to use tobacco products. Scientists are also finding that youth who are exposed to e-cigarette advertisements are more likely to use the product than youth who are not exposed.
Between 2011 and 2015, past-month e-cigarette use grew dramatically among middle school and high school students. E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used form of tobacco by youth in the United States. Dual use, or use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes by the same person, is common among youth and young adults (ages 18-25).
Youth and young adults cite a variety of reasons for using e-cigarettes. These include:
Flavored e-cigarettes are very popular, especially with young adults. More than 9 of 10 young adult e-cigarette users said they use e-cigarettes flavored to taste like menthol, alcohol, candy, fruit, chocolate, or other sweets. More than 8 of 10 youth ages 12-17 who use e-cigarettes said they use flavored e-cigarettes.
E-cigarette marketing, including product design and packaging, appeals to a young audience. For example, many e-cigarettes feature bright colors and fruit, candy, alcohol or other flavors that youth find attractive and interesting.
Many themes in e-cigarette marketing, including sexual content and customer satisfaction, are parallel to themes and techniques that the tobacco industry aimed at youth and young adults in their advertising and promotion of conventional cigarettes.
In 2014, about 7 in 10 middle school and high school students – more than 18 million youth – said they had seen e-cigarette advertising. Retail stores were the most frequent source of this advertising, followed by the internet, TV and movies, and magazines and newspapers.
Youth tobacco use in any form, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe. But a recent national survey showed that more than 6 of 10 American teens believe that e-cigarettes cause little or only some harm as long as they are used sometimes but not every day. Nearly 20% of young adults believe e-cigarettes cause no harm, more than half believe that they are moderately harmful, and 26.8% believe they are very harmful.
Young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to believe they cause no harm than those who have never used e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes pose potential risks to the population as a whole. E-cigarettes could cause public health harm if they:
More than 6 of 10 teens believe that occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm.
More than 60 percent of teens believe that occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm.
The correct response is True. More than 60 percent of teens do believe that occasional use of e-cigarettes causes only little or some harm.
Which of the following is a risk to youth and young adults who use nicotine?
Nicotine can harm brains as they develop—which continues until age 25 or older! When youth and young adults expose their brains to nicotine, they are vulnerable to nicotine addiction, may have trouble paying attention and concentrating, and experience mood disorders and reduced impulse control. Nicotine may alter the way their brains function for the rest of their lives.
The correct response is E. All of the above. For teens and young adults, nicotine may alter the way their brains function for the rest of their lives.
Brain development begins during the growth of the fetus in the womb and continues through childhood and to about age 25.
The correct response is D. Brain development begins during the growth of the fetus in the womb and continues through childhood and to about age 25.
Which of these tobacco products is most commonly used by U.S. high school students?
U.S. middle and high school students use e-cigarettes more than any other tobacco product.
The correct response is B. Both middle and high school students use e-cigarettes more than any other tobacco product.
Which of the following are reasons youth and young adults use e-cigarettes?
Young people use e-cigarettes because they are curious about them, like the flavors e-cigarettes contain, and believe e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes.
The correct response is D. Young people use e-cigarettes because they are curious about them, like the flavors e-cigarettes contain, and believe e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes.
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Read up on the following sections of this site to learn more about e-cigarettes:
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Scientists are still learning more about how e-cigarettes affect health. However, there is already enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by young people.
Because most tobacco use starts during adolescence, actions to protect our nation's young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction are critical.
Working together, we can keep America's youth and young adults safe from the dangers associated with tobacco use and nicotine addiction.