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E-cigarette Use Triples In Teens Between 2013 and 2014


On April 16, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control released the results of a study showing that e-cigarette use among teens tripled over a one-year period. From 2013 to 2014, the percentage of high school students using e-cigarettes rose from 4.5% to 13.4%, and during the same time period the percentage of middle school students using e-cigarettes increased from 1.1% to 3.9%. Overall, 25% of high school students and 8% of middle school students are "vamping," for an estimated total of 4.6 million underage users of tobacco. The one bright spot in the study: from 2011-2014, the number of high school students using traditional cigarettes declined from 16% to 9%.


While the drop in traditional cigarette use has been called historic, the explosion of the use of a product with unknown long-term health consequences could undermine the progress made in public health by anti-smoking laws and campaigns. Smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable death in the United States, causing 480,000 deaths a year. Although e-cigarettes do not have the tar and chemicals that traditional cigarettes do, they contain nicotine which is harmful to developing brains and highly addictive.

The fact that e-cigarettes are not a combustible tobacco product gives them the reputation--warranted or not--of being the healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes. In addition, vaping rather than smoking has become cool, evoking images that anti-smoking campaigns thought had been put to rest. This is a dangerous combination, because the fact is there is simply not enough research yet to determine the long-term consequences of the chemicals in the vaping liquid.


In April of 2014, one year ago this month, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it was extending its jurisdiction to more tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. An entire year and a tripling in the use of e-cigarettes later, however, and regulations have yet to be promulgated. Cities and states (including Georgia) have passed laws restricting sales of e-cigarettes to minors and banning their use in public places, but there are no federal regulations addressing their sale, use, or labeling. "The staggering increase [in e-cigarette use by kids] in just one year is why the FDA intends to regulate those additional products to protect public health," according to Mitch Zeller, the head of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.

Even when the highly-anticipated regulations are in effect, they will most likely stop short of banning online sales and television ads, areas that arguably affect minors the most. Slick new marketing campaigns making it look cool to vape, and offering a variety of hipster-style accessories appeals to those turned off by traditional cigarettes. Online sales allow minors to access tobacco products easier than if bought in person. Combine the marketing and online access with fruity and candy flavors that kids not only love, but that make the tobacco seem deceptively benign, and a whole new generation of young people is becoming addicted to smoking.


Contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm if your child has been exposed to or has been harmed by e-cigarettes.

Categories: News, E-Cigarettes
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