E-cigarette use among teenagers doubles

September 10, 2013

During 2011-2012, the percentage of students in grades 6 to 12 who ever used electronic or e-cigarettes doubled from 3.3% to 6.8%, meaning that as of 2012, an estimated 1.78 million middle and high school students have at least tried the largely unregulated devices, according to results from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

 

During 2011-2012, the percentage of students in grades 6 to 12 who ever used electronic or e-cigarettes doubled from 3.3% to 6.8%, meaning that as of 2012, an estimated 1.78 million middle and high school students have tried the largely unregulated devices, according to results from the National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Current use (≥1 day in the past 30 days) of the battery-powered cigarettes also doubled from 1.1% to 2.1%, according to the school-based pencil-and-paper questionnaire. Also, current use of both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes doubled from 0.8% to 1.6%. In 2012, fewer than 1 in 10 (9.3%) ever users of e-cigarettes reported never smoking conventional cigarettes. Among current e-cigarette users, more than three-quarters (76.3%) reported concurrent smoking of conventional cigarettes.

When the researchers looked at just high school students, ever use of e-cigarettes more than doubled during the period from 4.7% to an astonishing 10.0%. Current e-cigarette use increased from 1.5% to 2.8%, and current use of both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes increased from 1.2% to 2.2%. In 2012, among high school ever users of e-cigarettes, 7.2% reported never smoking conventional cigarettes, while 4 of 5 high school current e-cigarette users reported also currently smoking conventional cigarettes.

The picture was similar among middle school students, where ever use increased from 1.4% to 2.7%, current use increased from 0.6% to 1.1%, and current use of both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes increased from 0.3% to 0.7%. In 2012, only 1 in 5 middle school ever user of e-cigarettes reported never smoking conventional cigarettes, while 6 of 10 middle school current e-cigarette users reported also currently smoking conventional cigarettes.

Most states have no restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. The US Food and Drug Administration says that the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes have not been fully studied, so consumers have no way of knowing whether e-cigarettes are safe, how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during use, or whether use of the products leads young people to try other tobacco products.

 

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