Objective: To assess changes in engagement with online tobacco and electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) marketing (online tobacco marketing) among adolescents in the United States between 2013 and 2015. Methods: We assessed the prevalence of six forms of engagement with online tobacco marketing, both overall and by brand, among adolescents sampled in Wave 1 (2013–2014; n = 13 651) and Wave 2 (2014–2015; n = 12 172) of the nationally representative Population Assessment for Tobacco and Health Study. Engagement was analyzed by tobacco use status: non-susceptible never tobacco users; susceptible never tobacco users; ever tobacco users, but not within the past year; and past-year tobacco users. Results: Among all adolescents, the estimated prevalence of engagement with at least one form of online tobacco marketing increased from 8.7% in 2013–2014 to 20.9% in 2014–2015. The estimated prevalence of engagement also increased over time across all tobacco use statuses (eg, from 10.5% to 26.6% among susceptible adolescents). Brand-specific engagement increased over time for cigarette, cigar, and e-cigarette brands. Conclusion: Engagement with online tobacco marketing, both for tobacco and e-cigarettes, increased almost twofold over time.This increase emphasizes the dynamic nature of online tobacco marketing and its ability to reach youth. The Food and Drug Administration, in cooperation with social networking sites, should consider new approaches to regulate this novel form of marketing. Implications: This is the first study to estimate the national prevalence of engagement with online tobacco marketing among adolescents over time. The estimated prevalence of this engagement approximately doubled between 2013–2014 and 2014–2015 among all adolescents and, notably, among adolescents at relatively low risk to initiate tobacco use. This increase in engagement could represent public health harm if it results in increased initiation and use of tobacco products. Stronger federal regulation of online tobacco marketing and tighter control of access to tobacco-related content by social media sites could reduce adolescents’ exposure to and engagement with online tobacco marketing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health