E-Cigarette Use Among Teens on the Rise
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Two separate studies have found the rate of e-cigarette use among teens is substantially higher than previously reported.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 4.5% of high school students and 1.1% of middle school students had used e-cigarettes within the last thirty days, but more recent studies placed those numbers much higher.
A study conducted in Hawaii and published in the journal Pediatrics discovered that 29% of Hawaii teenagers had used e-cigarettes at least once, and 18% had used the devices in the last month. Another study conducted in Connecticut and published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research reported 25% of the state’s teenagers had used e-cigarettes at one point and 12% had used the devices within the last thirty days.
Although conventional cigarette use among teens has decreased by nearly 50% since 2000, the recent studies reveal high-schoolers are now turning to the electronic devices. While the verdict on the health risks of e-cigarettes is still out, long-time tobacco researcher Stanton Glantz says they hold an inherent danger: “There’s no question that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking,” Glantz said.
Authors of the Hawaii study noted that e-cigarettes are marketed towards teens, and while 40 states currently prohibit the sale of the devices to minors, 16 million kids nationwide can still legally purchase them.
The FDA is working towards regulating sales to minors, but so far no ruling has been made. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids spokesman Peter Hamm says that while the justices deliberate, the tobacco industry is hard at work getting kids hooked on the new smokeless alternative.
“We can’t afford more delays that buy the tobacco industry time to continue targeting kids with a new generation of products,” Hamm said.