Teens' Use of E-Cigarettes Doubles in a Year: CDC
Health officials worry the devices may cause more children to become addicted to tobacco products
The study findings were published in the Sept. 6 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called the CDC findings "alarming, but not surprising."
"E-cigarettes are sold in an assortment of sweet, kid-friendly flavors including 'vivid vanilla,' 'cherry crush' and chocolate, and they increasingly are marketed using themes and images long used to market regular cigarettes to kids," he said.
Although e-cigarette manufacturers contend that they only market to existing smokers, often as a way to quit the habit, the new CDC statistics show the marketing is enticing children to start what could become a lifelong addiction to tobacco products, Myers said.
"The e-cigarette industry portrays itself as wanting to help solve the tobacco problem, but its marketing is reminiscent of the tobacco industry in its worst days," he pointed out.
Using data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the CDC study found that the use of e-cigarettes by high school students rose from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012.
The percentage of high school students who said they'd used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days rose from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent over the same time span. E-cigarette use also doubled among middle school students, the investigators found.
More than 1.78 million middle and high school students had tried e-cigarettes by 2012, the study authors noted.
"The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in an agency news release. "Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes."
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver a nicotine dose along with other additives. They are not currently regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has said it intends to expand its authority over tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.
According to the FDA, some e-cigarettes have been marketed as smoking-cessation aids, but there's no scientific evidence that they help people quit smoking.