Approximately 18.3 million U.S. middle school and high school students were exposed to at least one source of e-cigarette advertising in 2014, found a study released last week from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

E-cigarettes are battery –powered devices that can deliver nicotine and other additives to a person in aerosol form.  Unsafe and as highly addictive, they became the most commonly used tobacco product among middle school and high school students in 2014, according to the CDC.

Researchers found that 14 million students were exposed to ads in retail stores, 10.5 million students were exposed to ads on the internet, 9.6 million students were exposed watching TV or movies, and 8 million students while reading newspapers or magazines.

Overall, this study exposes a threat to our nation's youth.  E-cigarettes deliver nicotine that is highly addictive, and might harm brain development.  Also, advertisements can contain youth-oriented themes and some studies shows that, when exposed, these kids are more likely to try e-cigarettes and possibly experiment with other tobacco products.

With this in mind, it is extremely important for us to stay educated about these issues.  As parents, you can support efforts to reduce youth access to the settings where tobacco products are sold as well as support regulation of youth oriented e-cigarette marketing.  Most importantly, talk to your children about e-cigarettes and similar products so that when exposed they can make the right decision.  Some tips about talking about e-cigarettes with your children include:

  • Be honest. Be clear. Be consistent. Make sure you are direct about teaching them not to use e-cigarettes.  Although you may not be "smoking" you are still giving your body harmful, additive chemicals.

  • Start early. From an early age you can talk about e-cigarettes as well as smoking.  E-cigarettes are marketed with trendy names and flavors like gummi bears that can be appealing to kids. Make sure to highlight the harmful effects to their teeth.  Not to mention, some e-cigarettes devices have been found to explode and even a teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be lethal to a child.

  • Be an example. Make sure you are not using these products and if are, quit.

  • Create smoke free environments. E-cigarettes are being advertised a means for people to "smoke" where smoking is prohibited. This can be confusing for children as well as enticing and needs to be explained.

  • If you do catch your child using e-cigarettes don't use ultimatums. This can sometimes backfire and it can be more helpful to inquire and find out why he or she is smoking. Sometimes other issues can be discovered and a solution can be found.

More information to help you with this information can be found at the CDC's Website.

Have a question for the Healthy Kids panel? Ask it here. Read more from the Healthy Kids blog »