Vapes and Marketing


Kris Plotke, Staff Writer

When you think of a product that appeals to younger audiences, what do you think of? Bright colors, cartoon characters, maybe fun scents or tastes, anything of that nature. Products like Fruit Rollups, Tamagotchi, chalk, and Legos are prime examples of this level of marketing. Their main audiences are children, right?


Now think about vapes. Also known as e-cigs, or electronic cigarettes, vapes have become widely popular since 2007 when it entered the U.S. marketplace. According to the CDC, “…and since 2014, they have been the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. youth. E-cigarette use among U.S. middle and high school students increased 900% during 2011-2015, before declining for the first time during 2015-2017” (CDC Surgeon General’s Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth). 


There’s something distinctive between vapes and normal cigarettes. Cigarettes generally have monotone packaging and a disgusting taste and smell while vapes have brightly colored packaging and provide “fun” tastes and smells.


The marketing techniques used in products for children and vapes have distinct similarities, too distinct to make vapes’ main audience adults.


There are many reasons why young generations cling to vapes rather than traditional cigarettes. An article on Truth Initiative shows the results from a survey held in 2016 on the reasons why young generations use vapes.”the most common reasons were:

  • Because a friend or family member used them (39 percent)
  • The availability of flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit or chocolate (31 percent)
  • The belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than other forms of tobacco, such as cigarettes (17.1 percent)” (Truth Initiative 3).


Another article on the Child Mind Institute written by Katherine Martinelli says “The FDA announced that it will be cracking down not only on illegal sales of e-cigarettes to minors, but also the “kid-friendly marketing and appeal of these products” because “we see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion” (Marinelli 3).


A lot of adults and teens alike share a common misconception: vaping is not as bad for your health than cigarettes, though the packaging does little to convey the risks of vaping.  ““They are very enticing in the way they look. It’s not transparent at all. It says 5% nicotine, which sounds like nothing, so teens think 95% is water weight or vapor,” laments Dr. Taskiran” (Martinelli 18). However, both vaping and cigarettes come with the severe risk of lung infection and damage to your immune system, along with side effects unique to vaping such as loss in concentration, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. 


Another factor that is vital is that teens are much more prone to addiction than adults because their brains, specifically their prefrontal cortex which is the area of the brain that controls planning, prioritizing, and controlling impulses, are not fully developed. In fact, it is only until mid to late twenties that the brain has fully matured. 


According to an article by Truth Initiative, e-cigarettes use four marketing strategies to target youth: offering scholarships, creating a buzz on social media, sponsoring music festivals and events, and introducing appealing flavors – which does not even include the brightly colored packaging.


This “trend” has become so popular that, in the National Youth Tobacco Survey held in 2022, it was found that “14.1% (2.14 million) of high school students and 3.3% (380,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use” (NYTS 2022). 


While normal cigarettes cause different diseases such as lung cancer, breast cancer, heart disease, emphysema, in years or even decades, vapes are seen to show lung damage in less time; often under a year. Other side effects include coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, increased feelings of anxiety, and a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with depression. 


Within the colorful designs and pleasurable tastes, is your life worth an addiction?



Center for Tobacco Products. “Results From the Annual National Youth Tobacco Survey.” U.S. Food And Drug Administration, 20 Dec. 2022,


Martinelli, Katherine, and Sarper Taskiran MD. “Teen Vaping: What You Need to Know.” Child Mind Institute, 6 Dec. 2022,


Surgeon General’s Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth | Smoking and Tobacco Use | CDC.


“The 3 Main Reasons Youth Use E-cigarettes.” Truth Initiative, 25 Mar. 2019,