(Forbes – by Tara Haelle) Three times as many middle school and high school students used e-cigarettes in 2014 than in 2013, according to an annual survey on youth tobacco use conducted by the CDC and FDA and published yesterday. That’s right — the number of high school students who said they had vaped at least once in the past 30 days tripled in one year, from 4.3% to 13.4% for high school students and from 1.1% to 3.9% for middle school students.
“E-cigarettes are the hot new thing,” said Dr. Harold J. Farber, a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. “They are hip, they are cool, they have candy flavors that appeal to young kids, and they are amazingly discreet.” They also contain one of the most addictive substances that exists, and e-cigarette manufacturers are doing a great job of marketing these products to kids, Farber said.
Yet there is almost no regulation to stop them. Most states ban e-cigarette sales to minors, but that’s clearly not stopping teens from getting them, especially from online orders. The FDA proposed regulations last year but has generally been dragging its feet for years, said Farber, who calls the agency’s sluggishness on the issue “unconscionable.” Further, the proposed regulations do not limit advertising or flavors such as bubblegum, cherry or chocolate that attract kids.
The good news in this CDC report, as highlighted in USA Today is the continuing drop in cigarette smoking among high school students, falling below 10% for the first time (9.4%). Middle school cigarette smoking remained steady at 2.5%. But the combination of e-cigarettes and increasing use of hookahs threaten to undo the progress made in reducing youth cigarette smoking.