E-cigarette use tripled among middle and high school students from 2013 to 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported after conducting its latest National Youth Tobacco Survey.
The soaring popularity of e-cigarettes among U.S. youth has alarmed federal health authorities, who warn that nicotine poses special dangers for children and teens in no matter what form it is ingested.
“We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “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 CDC’s latest survey found that e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014 – an increase of up to two million students. E-cigarette use among middle school students more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014 – an increase of up to 450,000 students.
Cigarette usage among the same age groups declined overall in 2013-2014, but that decline was met with a substantial increase in e-cigarette and hookah usage, the CDC said. Hookah smoking roughly doubled among middle and high school students in that time, rising from 5.2 percent in 2013 to 9.4 percent in 2014 among high school students and from 1.1 percent to 2.5 percent among middle school students.
The CDC said that 2014 was the first year since its Youth Tobacco Survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011 that e-cigarette usage surpassed the use of every other form of tobacco product.
“In today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace, the surge in youth use of novel products like e-cigarettes forces us to confront the reality that the progress we have made in reducing youth cigarette smoking rates is being threatened,” said Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These staggering increases in such a short time underscore why FDA intends to regulate these additional products to protect public health.”