Date of Award

5-15-2020

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

David L Ashley

Second Advisor

Claire A Spears

Abstract

Youth use of e-cigarettes has reached epidemic proportions. In 2019, 5.4 million youth and young adults were current e-cigarette users. This represents 27.5% of high school youth and 10.5% of middle school youth reporting current e-cigarette use. Comparatively, only 3.2% of US adults were current e-cigarette users in 2018.

Many factors have contributed to the rise in prevalence of youth vaping, including: marketing tactics employed by e-cigarette companies; e-cigarette product design; and the generational values of youth and young adults themselves. In this paper, these specific factors are addressed and their influence on the youth vaping epidemic is explored. The Social Cognitive Theory is used as a theoretical framework to elaborate on the relationship between youth tobacco use and social constructs. Current data are presented on e-cigarette use and used to inform recommendations to combat rising youth and young adult prevalence rates.

Findings suggest that national tobacco prevention and education campaigns are successful in changing tobacco use attitudes and behavior among youth and young adults. Campaigns should address deceitful tobacco company marketing tactics that have misguided the public as well as the technological appeal of e-cigarettes. Additionally, policies that address flavors and restrict use of e-cigarettes in schools and other locations are also discussed.

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