Use of e-cigarettes triples among students

More and more middle and high school students are interested in e-cigarettes, health officials say.
More and more middle and high school students are interested in e-cigarettes, health officials say.
The number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes has tripled in one year -- a finding that a public health official termed "astounding."

     The use of e-cigarettes among students has surpassed every other tobacco product, according to results from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a questionnaire given each year to middle and high school students in public and private schools.
     Calling the survey results “astounding and concerning,” Mitch Zeller, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, said, “This is an extraordinary jump, and something we are very concerned about from a public health perspective.”
     Electronic cigarettes contain and deliver nicotine, he explained in remarks posted on the FDA's YouTube channel. “Nicotine is very dangerous to the developing child and adolescent brain.”
    Zeller said health officials do not know whether students could form addictions to e-cigarettes, but he speculated that it was possible.

    According to the survey:

  • The number of high school students who said they used at least one e-cigarette during the past 30 days increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, or from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students.
  • E-cigarette use among middle school students also more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014—or from 120,000 to 450,000 students.
  • High school students are also interested in hookahs – water pipes. Hookah use rose from 5.2 percent in 2013, or about 770,000 students, to 9.4 percent in 2014, about 1.3 million students.
  • Hookah use is also trendy among the middle school gang. It rose from 1.1 percent in 2013, or about 120,000 middle school students, to 2.5 percent in 2014, 280,000 students.
  • Students were less interested in traditional cigarettes and cigars. “The good news is that cigarette use and cigar use by middle school and high school age kids continues to be down compared to where they were four, five, 10 years ago. The bad news is that e-cigarette use and hookah use is rising and rising exponentially,” Zeller said. “So all the good news is being threatened by the bad news of this dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes and hookah.”

     The results should raise alarm bells. “The striking increase in middle and high school use of e-cigarettes and hookah is really a public health emergency," Zeller said. "A tripling of e-cigarette usage in one year is just an astounding finding.”    

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