Despite restrictions placed on the advertising and promotion of tobacco products to minors, a disturbing new study claims America’s youth continue to be widely exposed to pro-tobacco messages and be influenced by them.

Public health advocates have long recognized the impact advertising has in glamorizing smoking to young people, who begin lighting up during adolescence.

Smoking is the leading cause of cancer, and most smokers begin lighting up during adolescence. This dangerous trend is cause for concern with health experts worrying over its adverse impact on teen health.

Data analysis
A study was designed to evaluate the proportion of youngsters receptive to tobacco advertising and assess the link between this exposure and susceptibility to smoking.

Dr. Shanta Dube, lead health scientist for surveillance in the Epidemiology Branch, Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and her team analyzed data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

They calculated the fraction of at risk middle school (MS) and high school (HS) students exposed tobacco advertising via mediums like stores, magazines, and the Internet. Vulnerability to smoking cigarettes was classified as “never smoked but open to trying cigarettes.”

Revelations of the study
The analysis revealed in the year 2011 an estimated 81.5 percent of MS students and 87 percent of HS students were aware of pro-tobacco advertisements in stores. In addition, 48.2 percent middle school and 54 percent high school kids were exposed to advertising in the print medium.

The Internet has emerged as a viable platform for tobacco advertising. Self-reported exposure to online tobacco advertising was found to be around 40 percent among both middle and high school students.

It was noted that 22.5 percent of MS students and 24.2 percent of HS students surveyed were vulnerable to experimenting with cigarettes. The study found that though exposure to magazine advertising dropped from 71.8 in 2000 to 46.1 percent in 2009 among middle school lids, it shot up to 55.4 percent in 2011. Young people’s exposure to tobacco advertising via the Internet jumped from 25.9 percent in 2000 to 44.7 percent in 2011.

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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