SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials in Utah are very concerned about what kids might be seeing on television. Recent studies show an explosion in the number of commercials for electronic cigarettes on TV shows most likely seen by young people.
According to a recent article from USA Today, exposure to e-cigarette ads among adolescents spiked 256 percent between 2011 and 2013, and exposure jumped 321 percent among people between the ages of 18 and 34.
Adam Bramwell, with the Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, would rather not see any commercials for e-cigarettes.
“The fact that the tobacco industry now has ads back on television for the first time since 1970 is a large step back for public health,” he said.
A large number of these commercials are seen on networks like AMC, VH1 and Comedy Central.
“We try to hit television programming that is geared toward young adults but your edgier teenagers view it as well. I think the tobacco industry is probably aiming for that same exact type of kid that we are,” he said.
Bramwell believes the tactics used to sell cigarettes in the '60’s are the same being used to sell e- cigarettes now.
The fact that the tobacco industry now has ads back on television for the first time since 1970 is a large step back for public health.
“They’re using celebrities. They’re using sex to sell the product,” he said.
Bramwell also said tobacco companies are making unverified claims about how safe their devices are.
The state is already seeing some alarming trends in who uses e-cigarettes. Not only has the number of people using e-cigarettes jumped, but more people are engaging in dual- usage — smoking regular cigarettes and using the electronic devices.
“In 2014, more teens are smoking e-cigarettes than normal cigarettes, which is an extremely concerning thing since we don’t know what the long term health effects will be,” Bramwell said.
The uncertainty of the long-term effects is putting Utah health officials between a figurative rock and a hard place. They want to tell people how dangerous the devices are, but without the proper studies, they can’t make those claims. However, Bramwell said they have created a website that has proven and safe ways to quit smoking.