Teen use of e-cigarettes skyrockets

Teen use of e-cigarettes skyrockets
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Electronic cigarette use among middle and high school students has tripled in the last year, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products.

Results from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, an increase from approximately 660,000 students to 2 million.

The survey considered e-cigarette use to be at least one day in the past 30 days.

Among middle school students, e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014, an increase from approximately 120,000 students to 450,000 students.

CDC said this is the first time since the survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011 that use of the product has surpassed every other tobacco product overall, including conventional cigarettes.

The personal vaporizers are most popular, CDC said, among blacks and Hispanics.

“We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a news release. “Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use.”

The survey also found that hookah smoking had roughly doubled among middle and high school students, even as cigarette smoking declined among high school students and remained the same among middle schoolers. 

In 2014, 1.3 million high school students, or 9.4 percent, smoked hookahs, compared to  770,000 students, or 3.2 percent, in 2013. In middle schools, hookah smoking rose from 1.1 percent, or 120,000 students, to 2.5 percent, or 280,000 students.

It has been nearly a year since FDA said it intended to assert its authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and cigars. Health groups, however, are still waiting for the agency to finalize those deeming regulations and issue rules for how those tobacco products are flavored, packaged and marketed. 

The American Lung Association (ALA) said the study’s findings highlight the need for President Obama’s leadership in ensuring his administration finalizes the “deeming” regulations.

“April 25 will mark the one year anniversary from when FDA’s proposed rule was released, and over four years after FDA first announced its plan to oversee cigars, e-cigarettes and hookah,” ALA’s National President and CEO Harold Wimmer said in a news release. “It is time for the Obama administration to act with urgency.”

According to ALA, Tobacco use kills almost half a million Americans each year, and impacts almost every system in the body, causing lung cancer, heart attacks, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease known as COPD, and even sudden infant death syndrome.