While there are some regulations in place to ban companies from marketing regular cigarettes on TV and other sources, no such rules exist for electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, advertisements.
Other sources, which include retail stores, the Internet, magazines/newspapers, and TV/movies could be playing a role in an increase of e-cigarette use among teens, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
While the CDC doesn’t go as far as proving that advertising is the cause of increased e-cigarette use among teens, its report does shed light on the marketing strategies that are reaching middle and high school students.
According to the report, marketing spending by e-cigarette companies increased from $6.4 million in 2011 to $115 million in 2014, a year in which around 69 percent of middle and high school students saw some variety of advertisement from one of the four sources.
This is about 18 million students, including 10 million high school students and 8 million middle school students.
Specifically, 14.4 million saw e-cigarette advertisements in retail stores, 10.5 million saw them on the Internet, 8 million in magazines/newspapers, and 9.6 million on TV.
Among high school students, around 8 million saw e-cigarette advertisements in retail stores, while 6 million saw them on the Internet. Those numbers are 6 million and around 4 million, respectively, among middle school students.
Fifteen percent of students said they came across e-cigarette advertisements from all four sources.
Meanwhile, e-cigarette use in the past 30 days increased between 2011 and 2014 in both middle school students, from less than one percent to four percent, and high school students, from less than two percent to 13 percent.
In 2014, a total of around 2.4 million middle and high school students identified as past 30-day users of e-cigarettes.
Nicotine is present in most e-cigarettes, which the CDC said can cause addiction, hurt brain development, and could lead to youth continuing to use tobacco products.