Online Tobacco Marketing Increases Risks That Teens Will Use Tobacco Products

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that a study in the February 2018 Pediatrics found that teenagers who engaged with online tobacco marketing were more likely to try and use tobacco products more frequently, and less likely to stop using the products. The study, “Online Tobacco Marketing and Subsequent Tobacco Use,” suggests that active engagement with online marketing — such as watching videos online or using social networking sites to view tobacco products — may place adolescents at higher risk for tobacco use than traditional marketing methods. Nearly 12 percent of U.S. adolescents — or 2.9 million — engaged with online tobacco marketing in 2013-14. The researchers analyzed data from 11,996 adolescents sampled in the nationally representative Population Assessment for Tobacco and Health Study, first by assessing their engagement with online marketing of tobacco products in 2013-2014. The researchers followed up with respondents in 2014-2015 to determine whether the teens had initiated tobacco use, increased their frequency of use, progressed to poly-product use, or quit using tobacco. After accounting for other risk factors, they found engagement with online tobacco marketing raised the likelihood of tobacco initiation by 26%, increased frequency of use by 58%, and progression to poly-product use by 70% while lowering the likelihood of cessation by 29%. The authors conclude that regulation by the Food and Drug Administration and cooperation of social-networking sites is needed to limit the teens’ engagement with online tobacco marketing and lower risks of use.

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