FDA Launches Campaign to Prevent E-Cigarette Use Among Native Teens

Studies show that Native youth are more susceptible to e-cigarette use than their non-Native peers.
A person using an electronic cigarette

SILVER SPRING, MD — As part of its ongoing efforts to protect youth from the dangers of tobacco use, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched Next Legends, a youth e-cigarette prevention campaign. 

The campaign will educate American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth, ages 12 to 17, about the harms of vaping through unique branding and tailored messaging created to inspire a new generation to live Native strong and vape-free.

"The Next Legends campaign is an important and creative way to educate Native youth about the harms of vaping," said Michele Mital, acting director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "E-cigarettes are the most-used tobacco product among youth, and they pose serious health risks if used during adolescence, when the brain is still developing.

"Next Legends builds on the success of previous youth e-cigarette prevention campaigns while also addressing health disparities among Native Americans and Alaska Natives associated with tobacco use," Mital continued. "Communicating with Native youth through culturally aligned messages will help these youth make informed decisions about healthy behavior, including being vape-free."

There are approximately 400,000 Native teens in the United States, and more than half of them are at-risk of using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. Studies indicate that Native youth are more susceptible to e-cigarette use than their non-Native peers, and they demonstrate disproportionately high experimentation and current use of e-cigarettes.

Next Legends works by reaching AI/AN teens where they spend much of their time online. Digital video advertisements will be placed on social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, as well as streaming and gaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.

Data from the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System also indicates that:

  • AI/AN youth are more likely to use e-cigarettes and almost twice as likely to be frequent users of e-cigarettes than high school students overall;
  • 47.3 percent of AI/AN high school students reported past 30-day use of "electronic vapor products" including e-cigarettes compared to 32.7 percent of high school students overall; and, 
  • 19.9 percent of AI/AN high school students reported using electronic vapor products frequently (on 20 or more days in the last 30 days) compared to 10.7 percent of high school students overall.

In consultation with AI/AN community members and other experts in Native culture, media, and public health research, the FDA conducted research to develop effective messaging to reach Native youth. Its strategies included research and analysis to identify messaging needs and unique cultural considerations for commercial tobacco use prevention efforts; focus groups with AI/AN youth from across regions of the U.S.; and testing of video ads through an online survey with a large sample of Native youth. 

The FDA's tobacco prevention campaigns are critical to its public health mission, according to the agency. In addition to public education campaigns, the agency protects youth from the harms of vaping through regulation, scientific review of products, and taking enforcement actions against tobacco manufacturers, retailers, importers and distributors when needed.