New government study says E-cigarettes have been growing in popularity due to increased teen usage. A national survey conducted on the use of tobacco in young people revealed that high school and middle school usage of E-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012.
E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are devices powered by batteries. They release a vapor substance filled with nicotine and other fillers. Even though they are said to be safer than traditional cigarettes it’s been proven that some of them contain substances that are potentially harmful. Upon investigation many contained irritants and animal carcinogens.
Electronic smokes are promoted as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes. These cigarettes can be sold to minors in many states due to the absence of regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Electronic cigarettes are not held to the same federal age standards as their counter parts.
This National Youth Tobacco Survey questioned nearly 20,000 teens on their understanding and relationship to pro-tobacco and anti-tobacco influence and usage. Their findings showed a serious increase in E-cigarettes.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Dr. Tom Frieden, said that the rise in usage concerns health officials. He said many adult smokers started in their teens. Studies show that 90 percent of all smokers got started early. According to Dr. Frieden the adolescent brain is more vulnerable to nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and even though these kids start with E-cigarettes it may be setting them up for a long battle with nicotine and traditional cigarette addiction.
Chairman, chief executive and president of Lorillard, Murray S. Kessler, said the increase in teen usage is not acceptable. Lorillard is the company that owns Blu eCigs; one of the more popular brands of electronic cigarettes. She said they do not promote their brand to youth and they are anticipating a regulated margin that will restrict youth access. She says that this is still a great alternative to regular cigarettes; one with the most harm reducing agents that have ever been available for smokers.
This drastic increase indicates that new marketing strategies need to be explored. Marketing and sales need to be restricted for these young people. This new study is not an indication that teens are completely skipping traditional cigarettes. Over 76 percent of these teens that profess to use e-cigarettes have also smoked traditional cigarettes within the same time frame of the study.
Tobacco smoking presents many health risks. Those that succumb to its usage have an increased susceptibility to cancer, breathing related illness, heart disease and stroke. As it stands now the health risks for people to transition from e-cigarettes to traditional cigarettes has not been confirmed.
Action has already been taken in some European countries against electronic cigarettes because of the uncertainty of their health effects. In France, the same smoking band that exists for traditional cigarettes is in place for electronic cigarettes. As stated by Marisol Touraine, France’s Health Minister, electronic cigarettes are not an ordinary product because they encourage imitating smokers and as a result could serve to promote traditional smoking.
The director of the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, stated that this study poses serious concern because the long term effects of these products are still unclear. The results, however, reinforce the importance of expanding the authority of the FDA to include all cigarette products. A thorough and appropriate regulatory framework needs to be established in order to reduce the potential effects of disease and death from the usage of tobacco.
The increased use of electronic cigarettes was also reflected in adult users. Researchers confirmed that this drastic increase is caused greatly by the aggressive marketing drives; many which include famous actors. The added flavors that E-cigarettes allow appeal highly to teen users.
Electronic cigarettes’ popularity may have risen among teens but so has their safety concerns. The Food and Drug Administration does not yet regulate them, but has announced that this will soon change.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)