Study: E-cigarette advertising harms middle and high school students

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows more advertisements for electronic cigarettes are leading to greater use among youth.

E-cigs have become the most popular form of tobacco use for middle and high school kids. A local doctor found that’s the case in Eastern North Carolina too.

The CDC says the number of American teens using e-cigarettes tripled between 2014 and 2015. Local numbers support these findings. ECU Dr. Vivek Anand surveyed nearly 3,000 area high school students and found about 15% have used e-cigs.

This new CDC study says advertising is part of the problem. Spending on e-cig ads targeted at youth grew from $6.4 million in 2011 to $115 million in 2014.

E-cigs do contain tobacco, yet Regional Tobacco Control Manager Moneka Midgette says these ads give kids a different message.

“They tend to think that e-cigarettes… They don’t classify it as e-cigarettes, they call it vape. So they think that it’s just water vapor. They think that it’s really harmless, there’s nothing to it,” Midgette said.

Dr. Anand’s study supports this claim, finding 60% of high schoolers in the East think e-cigs are completely safe.

Midgette is working to teach people about the dangers, and she says they’re listening.

“A lot of the high schools are cracking down and they’re getting information and they’re bringing people in to talk about it. They’re addressing the issue,” Midgette said. “They’re updating their policies in the school districts to include e-cigarettes because it is classified as a tobacco product.”

The FDA is working to get regulatory authority over e-cigs, which should help alleviate the popularity among teens.

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