The jury is still out in determining whether or not the use of e-cigarettes can be helpful to those who are attempting to quit smoking, but because the devices still contain a hefty amount of nicotine, they are still not safe and can lead to nicotine addiction in those who are not already dependent. Teens who opt to use e-cigarettes may be avoiding the harmful effects of cigarette smoke in their lungs, but they are still developing a dependence upon nicotine when they use e-cigarettes.
Unfortunately, the marketers responsible for putting e-cigarettes into the hands of consumers would have you believe that e-cigarettes are perfectly safe—and even healthy. In fact, there is a concern that teenagers are too often being exposed to this sort of advertising campaign, reports NBC News.
According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, teens between the ages of 12 and 17 were exposed to a high rate of TV commercials for e-cigarettes between 2011 and 2013—a 256 percent increase over previous years. Additionally, researchers found that the rate of exposure to e-cigarette ads increased for those in the 18–24 age group by about 321 percent during that same time period.
In order to reach their target audience, these advertisements most often aired on channels that are popular in these age groups, including TV Land, VH1, Comedy Central, and CMT.
Jennifer Duke, PhD, was a co-author of the study. In a news release, she said, “If the current trends continue, awareness and use of e-cigarettes will increase among youth and young adults. And unfortunately, in the absence of evidence-based public health messages regarding the health risks of e-cigarettes, television advertising is promoting beliefs and behaviors that pose harm to youth and young adults and raise public health concerns.”
What Can Parents Do?
Though it’s difficult to control the advertisements to which your child is exposed, parents can limit that exposure and pay attention to the influence the ads are attempting to have on their kids. If your son is seeing a number of these ads, don’t be shy about helping him to put the substance-related information into perspective. Talking about the motivation behind marketing can help teens remember to question advertising and marketing of all kinds, and making it clear that nicotine is still an addictive substance and connected to other drugs of abuse can highlight the danger of abusing drugs of any kind—even those purported to be “safe” and legal.
If your son is struggling with substance abuse despite your best efforts, we can help. Connect with our call center here at Muir Wood now or download an application packet to learn more about the evidence-based nature of our treatment program and how we can help your son overcome drug abuse and addiction through intensive teen-focused treatment.