Although tobacco use among teens has declined, two recent studies indicate alarming trends in the use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students. Experts warn that e-cigarettes are toxic for young people.
Results from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released this year found that teen e-cigarette use soared. E-cigarette use increased by nearly 89 percent for high school students and by nearly 85 percent for middle school students between 2011 and 2014.
The CDC study also revealed spending on e-cigarette advertising increased by $108 million more in 2014 than in 2011. It noted that more than seven in 10 U.S. middle and high school students were exposed to e-cigarette ads in 2014.
Equally troubling were findings from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study released in August. Researchers found that students who use e-cigarettes are more likely than others to start smoking traditional cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products within a year. Researchers surveyed students and found that 25.2 percent of students who used e-cigarettes prior to the start of ninth grade had also used combustible tobacco products by the beginning of the tenth grade compared to just 9.3 percent of nonusers.
While the NIH study does not conclude that e-cigarette use directly leads to smoking, it does raise concerns that recent increases in youth e-cigarette use could prolong the epidemic of smoking-related illness.
Researchers concluded that multiple approaches can help reduce youth e-cigarette use and exposure to e-cigarette advertisements. Some of the approaches are covered by a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that allows the agency to regulate e-cigarettes. By limiting youth access to settings where e-cigarettes are sold and regulating youth-oriented e-cigarette marketing, along with continuing to implement state tobacco control programs, we can potentially reduce e-cigarette use among youth.