More than eight of 10 youth and young adults saw e-cigarette advertising in 2015, according to a new report released today by Truth Initiative. The study, Vaporized: Youth and Young Adult Exposure to E-Cigarette Marketing, also found that e-cigarette advertising expenditures increased significantly by 52% from 2013-2014, reaching $115.3 million in 2014.
Television was the second biggest source of e-cigarette advertising with approximately 50% of youth reporting seeing an ad. Traditional cigarette advertising has not been permitted on television since 1971.
“It’s no accident that spending on e-cigarette marketing has increased by more than 50 percent and that a majority of youth have seen these ads,” said Robin Koval, CEO and President of Truth Initiative. “Advertising, particularly television, is extremely expensive and no advertiser would waste money against a target that is outside their intended audience. These new data provide further evidence that the Food and Drug Administration must restrict e-cigarette marketing to youth.”
The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco products. The agency also has the ability to regulate additional tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and appears to be close to asserting jurisdiction over them through what is known as the deeming rule. Until then, e-cigarettes are not subject to any federal standards for quality or safety and there are no marketing restrictions.
Key findings of the study included:
- 82% of 12-17 year olds and 88% of 18-21 year olds reported having seen an e-cigarette ad in 2015.
- Awareness of e-cigarette advertisements remains highest in retail establishments (convenience stores, supermarkets, or gas stations), followed by on television and online.
- The top 10 e-cigarette brands with the highest advertising expenditure in 2013 and 2014 account for 98% of total category spend.
- Five brands (blu, MarkTen, NJOY, Vuse and Fin) account for 95% of total category spend. The three brands with highest advertising expenditure in 2014 — MarkTen, blu, and Vuse — are all owned by Big Tobacco companies.
- The top 10 brands spent $75.7 million in 2013 and $115.3 million in 2014. Magazines and cable TV accounted for the vast majority of dollars spent in both years.
- The brand with the highest 2014 spending – MarkTen – increased its spending from $431,000 in 2013 to $54 million in 2014. MarkTen far outspent any other brand in 2014. The remaining top spending brands were blu, which spent $39 million, and Vuse, which spent $9.6 million. With the exception of MarkTen, Vuse and Tryst, all brands decreased spending from 2013 to 2014.
- In 2014, MarkTen and blu accounted for nearly all of the $83 million in magazine expenditures. blu, Vuse, and NJOY accounted for nearly all of the $22 million in cable television expenditures.