The number of adolescents who engaged with online tobacco marketing
increased from 2.2 million in 2013-2014 to 5.2 million in 2015-2016.
The number of adolescents who engaged with online tobacco marketing increased from 2.2 million in 2013-2014 to 5.2 million in 2015-2016. Engagement can include receiving email alerts, watching videos online or reading articles online about tobacco products; liking or following a tobacco brand on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook and Twitter); and receiving coupons. This dramatic increase in engagement with online tobacco marketing may represent a public health harm if it increases tobacco-use initiation among never users or use progression among current users. Researchers at The Dartmouth Institute examined online engagement with tobacco marketing and its association with tobacco use among adolescents in order to better assess its potential as a public health threat.
OR APPROXIMATELY 2.9 MILLION YOUTH ENGAGE WITH TOBACCO MARKETING.
Using newly available data from a national longitudinal study of over 13,000 adolescents ages 12-17, the researchers assessed whether online engagement is a risk factor for tobacco-use initiation, increased use frequency, progression to poly-product use, and cessation. Youth studied included those who had never used tobacco, had tried it at least once, or had used it in the past 30 days.
The researchers found that 12%, or approximately, 2.9 million youth, engaged with tobacco marketing. They also found that higher levels of online engagement were associated with higher susceptibility to tobacco use among those who had never used tobacco and those who had used it at least once. Youth who have never used tobacco and who enter e-cigarette brand web sites, for example, can see what others write about their experiences with products on message boards, as well as interact with the web site through its games, videos, and contests.
The researchers’ finding of a strong association between online engagement and susceptibility reinforces concerns about youth exposure to tobacco advertising on interactive web sites as evidence has shown that online engagement increases advertising effectiveness.