*The following is excerpted from an online article from U.S. News & World Report.
The number of middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes tripled last year, according to a new government report.
"We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement. "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 new findings come from the annual 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, conducted by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products.
They show that e-cigarette use – meaning use on at least one day during the past month – among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014. Among middle school students, the rate more than tripled, from 1.1. percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014.
The study also found that e-cigarette use has surpassed that of every other tobacco product, including traditional cigarettes, the use of which has declined among both high school students and middle school students in the past several years.
E-cigarettes – battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create an inhalable vapor – are not regulated yet by the FDA, though the agency is writing final rules on the products regarding restricting their use by minors, warning labels and whether they can be sold in vending machines.
Frieden spoke out against the marketing of e-cigarettes Thursday in a call with reporters, saying that advertising for them has echoed efforts to promote tobacco during the 1950s.
“Marketing is about sex, flavors, free samples,” he said. “Although cigarette ads … haven’t been on TV since 1971, kids are now seeing e-cigarettes on TV … including themes of glamour, rebellion, celebrity, sports, music events, candy and fruit flavors. They spend more on marketing and promotion in just a couple of days than we spend in years educating the public.”
Some states have limited the age at which teens can buy e-cigarettes, and some have extended smoke-free laws to include them. The CDC considers e-cigarettes unsafe, though there is still debate over how they compare with traditional cigarettes in their effects on a person’s health.
Source: U.S. News & World Report