Over the last few years, e-cigarette use has reached epidemic proportions among teens nationally and in Montana. The 2021 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) indicates that nearly 48% of Yellowstone County high school students have tried e-cigarettes and 30% are current users. Among middle school students, 26% have tried e-cigarettes and 13% are current users in Yellowstone County.
Although rates have decreased since 2019, e-cigarettes remain the most used tobacco product among teens. Teens who try e-cigarettes are four times as likely to try combustible cigarettes within one year, leading them down a long path of addiction and health problems.
Commercial tobacco marketing thrives in places teens frequent, such as convenience stores. Strategically placed ads and product displays on the counter and bright packaging are common tactics tobacco companies use to gain exposure with younger crowds. Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco are restricted from TV, radio, and online marketing. Instead, e-cigarette marketing uses online platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. Many hire product influencers to promote their products to gain youth interest.
According to Truth Initiative, flavors play a significant role in encouraging tobacco use in younger populations and remain one of the most common reasons teens try them. About 80% of teens who used commercial tobacco started with flavored products, and 97% of youth who use e-cigarettes use a flavored product.