The unregulated marketing of e-cigarettes is increasing the number of young people who vape, according to a new study from researchers at UT Austin.
The study, published in Pediatrics, followed 2,288 teens (ages 12-17) and 2,423 young adults (ages 18-29) in Texas who had never vaped in 2014. Researchers found those who remembered seeing e-cigarette marketing on TV or in retail stores were much more likely to start vaping two and a half years later.
Teens were twice as likely to use e-cigarettes after seeing ads, while young adults were 1.3 times as likely. Researchers say the results held even after controlling for the effects of peer pressure and the use of other tobacco products.
Marketing and advertising for e-cigarettes is currently not regulated by the federal government.
Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to more than 1,300 retailers and five manufacturers related to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to kids, saying vaping had reached "an epidemic proportion."
E-cigarettes surpassed real cigarettes in 2014 as the most popular tobacco product among teens and young adults. Nearly 5% of middle-schoolers and just over 20% of high schoolers report that they vape.
The first death related to e-cigarettes was reported last week in Illinois. An unidentified adult died after developing a severe pulmonary illness linked to vaping, according to public health officials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the number of vaping-related pulmonary illnesses rose to 193 in 22 states.
North Carolina announced Tuesday that it is suing eight e-cigarette companies, alleging they "aggressively" target children and are "helping to fuel an epidemic of vaping among high school and middle school students."