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E-cigarette brands' free reign on advertising sparks huge uptake among high school students

The unrestricted marketing on e-cigarettes has been hugely successful for advertisers, according to a new study which found a strong association between ad exposure and uptake of the smoking alternative.

E-cigarettes has emerged as a hugely popular healthier alternative to smoking however its success has been largely built on the industry’s free reign on marketing which it enjoys over the tobacco industry.

In the US spending on e-cigarette advertising rose to an estimated $115m, from $6.4m between 2011 and 2014. This was followed by an almost 12 per cent increase in e-cigarette use among US high schoolers.

A new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that the free reign on advertising has subsequently resulted in a huge uptake of usage among high schoolers, promoting health experts to urge lawmakers to review how the e-cigarettes are marketed.

The findings of the report found an increase of 500,000 middle school and high school students began using e-cigarette last year, taking the total three million.

While it is worth noting that there is no consensus on the health implications of e-cigarettes the CDC notes in its report that “any tobacco use by youth is dangerous to their health."

Brian King, deputy director at the CDC's smoking division, said: “The unrestricted marketing of e-cigarettes and dramatic increases in their use by youth could reverse decades of progress in preventing tobacco use among youth."

Touching on the marketing approach used by the e-cigarette industry King added: “Today's e-cig ads "look eerily like the ads" that used to sell cigarettes, leaning on depictions of "sex, independence, and rebellion.”

Changes could be on the horizon though as the Food and Drug Administration, which as long regulated tobacco, is reportedly close to finalising a rule which will give it a degree of control over e-cigarette marketing.

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