UMN Expert: E-cigarette use among youth

Sherri Katz

This month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put manufacturers and retailers on alert, saying teen e-cigarette usage has reached “an epidemic proportion.” Today, e-cigarettes are used by two million youth and are the most commonly used tobacco products by youth.

University of Minnesota Assistant Professor Sherri Jean Katz weighs in on youth’s use of e-cigarettes and health messaging surrounding them.

Sherri Jean Katz, Ph.D.
“With traditional cigarettes, the message is clear – don’t smoke. E-cigarettes require a more nuanced message.

“What is really interesting is that we see a very big difference between those who have tried an e-cigarette even once and those who have never tried one. For example, in our study of 658 high school youth in the Twin Cities area, we found that 60 percent of ‘triers’ agree or strongly agree that e-cigarettes are fun to try, while less than five percent of ‘non-triers’ fell into these categories. And, almost half of ‘triers’ expect to use an e-cigarette again soon, while only 1.5 percent of ‘non-triers’ said they probably would use one soon.

“We, at the University of Minnesota, are working on researching health messaging strategies surrounding e-cigarettes. The challenge is to discourage recreational use without discouraging existing adult smokers who may want to fully transition from traditional cigarettes.”

Sherri Jean Katz is an assistant professor at the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Masonic Cancer Center member. Her areas of expertise include health communication, tobacco warning labels, and tobacco and youth.

Contact information:
Sherri Jean Katz
917-446-4745 (cell)

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