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Health & Parenting

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More U.S. Teens Try E-Cigarettes, Hookahs: Report

Cigarette smoking hasn't declined among young people, researchers find


E-cigarettes simulate the experience of smoking without delivering smoke. They are shaped like cigarettes but users inhale a vaporized, nicotine-based liquid.

"Nicotine is an addictive drug that affects brain development, especially in adolescents, whose brains are still developing," he said.

According to the report, from 2011 to 2012 use of e-cigarettes among middle-school students rose from 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent. Their use by high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent.

Over the same period, hookah use among high schoolers jumped from 4.1 percent to 5.4 percent, the researchers found.

Currently, electronic cigarettes, hookah tobacco, cigars and certain other new tobacco products are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA has said it intends to classify these products as tobacco products, putting them under the agency's control.

The popularity of these new products hurts ongoing tobacco-prevention efforts, experts say. "This proliferation of novel tobacco products that are priced and marketed to appeal to kids are slowing our progress in reducing tobacco use among kids," said Danny McGoldrick, research director for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"You have the marketing of electronic cigarettes that are using all the themes and tactics that have been used by cigarette companies for decades to market to kids, like flavors, the use of celebrities, the use of sports and entertainment, as well as glamour, sex and rebellion," he said.

This is why the FDA needs to assert jurisdiction over all tobacco products, McGoldrick said.

Cigar use is also rising among adolescents. Their use by black high school students rose from about 12 percent to nearly 17 percent from 2011 to 2012, and since 2009 has more than doubled, according to the report.

Cigars and cigarettes were smoked by about the same number of boys in 2012 -- more than 16 percent.

Cigars include so-called "little cigars," which are similar in size, shape and filter to cigarettes, King said. But since they are taxed at lower rates than cigarettes, they are more affordable. "You can buy a single, flavored little cigar for mere pocket change, which could increase their appeal among youth," he said.

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