To assess changes in engagement with online tobacco and electronic cigarette marketing (‘online tobacco marketing’) among adolescents in the US between 2013 and 2015.
We assessed the prevalence of 6 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.
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 (e.g., from 10.5% to 26.6% among susceptible adolescents). Brand-specific engagement increased over time for cigarette, cigar, and e-cigarette brands.
Engagement with online tobacco marketing, both for tobacco and e-cigarettes, increased almost two-fold 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.