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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

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"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.

Thomas Kiklas, president of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, an industry group, said e-cigarettes should be regulated in the same way that real ones are, but the FDA has so far not proposed any regulation. A federal court ruled in 2010 that e-cigarettes could not be regulated as a drug or therapeutic device, but could be regulated by the FDA as a tobacco product, he said.

"It is the position of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association that electronic cigarettes are a tobacco product and, as such, all sales by retailers adhere to all state, local and federal laws/codes pertaining to sales of tobacco products to minors," Kiklas said. "Electronic cigarettes should not be sold or marketed to minors."

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