Television marketing is responsible for a huge jump in teenagers' use of e-cigarettes, according to a new study, and researchers say the results reflect the need for the federal government to step-up marketing of the electronic smoking device.

Teenager exposure to e-cigarette advertising jumped 256 percent between 2011 and 2013, and put the electronic smoking device in front of 24 million children, states a report from RTI International and the Florida Department of Health, published in the journal Pediatrics

"If current trends in e-cigarette television advertising continue, awareness and use of e-cigarettes are likely to increase among youth and young adults," said Matthew L. Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The news comes as the Food and Drug Administration already has e-cigarettes under review regarding potential new regulations and oversight given concerns about industry marketing practices.

The research team claims more than 80 percent of the youth exposure resulted from advertising for one brand of e-cigarettes, the blu eCigs, owned by Lorillard. Advertising spending on the device jumped from $2 million in 2011 to over $14 million in 2012, states the report.

Lorillard and other e-cigarette makers claim their advertising is aimed at adults, but researchers say the marketing is hitting a much wider segment.  Tobacco cigarette ads were banned by the U.S. in 1971. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention youth e-cigarette use by youths and teens are on the rise, doubling from 2011 to 2012 with the percentage of high school students jumping from 4.7 percent to 10 percent. The CDC reports 1.78 million teens had smoked e-cigarettes as of 2012.

According to one news report, citing Nielsen television viewing statistics, e-cigarette makers have steadily boosted television marketing over the past several years, with ads increasing 256 percent from 2011 to 2013 for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years, and 321 percent for those between the ages of 18 and 24 years.

"Unlike in the early days of e-cigarette advertising, it seems that television ads have been consolidated by very few e-cigarette brands," lead author Jennifer Duke, PhD, researcher and senior public health analyst at RTI International, told Medscape Medical News.

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