E-cigarettes are becoming more popular with kids

E-cigarette use is on the rise among American high school students, even as conventional cigarettes smoking declines in popularity, according to some new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that use of electronic cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014 and, for the first time, exceeds use of regular cigarettes.

E-cigarettes provide a high-tech “nicotine delivery system.” In recent years, they’ve been marketed as a safer, more socially friendly alternative to conventional cigarettes.

Cigarette smoking is down

The good news is that conventional cigarette smoking has dropped, and is now at a record low. Among high school students, cigarette smoking (of at least one day in the past 30 days) fell to 9.2 percent in 2014 from 12.7 percent in 2013. E-cigarette use, however, increased to 13.4 percent in 2014 from 4.5 percent in 2013. This is up from just 1.5 percent in 2011.

The CDC also noted there was no decline in overall tobacco use from 2011 to 2014, with 24.6 percent of high school students reporting current use of at least one tobacco product in 2014.

Are E-cigarettes dangerous?

E-cigarette liquids include propylene glycol and/or glycerol, along with nicotine and flavorings. Some recent research suggests that formaldehyde-containing hemiacetals can be formed during the use of e-cigarettes. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.

Companies that make e-cigarettes say these studies only produced dangerous levels of formaldehyde when their products were used improperly, and that no such formaldehyde-containing hemiacetals were present during normal use of the product.

Critics contend the “unusual” method cited by the e-cigarette industry involves the use of high voltage e-cigarette systems. Such systems are becoming more popular due to their ability to “supercharge” the vaping process to produce a more intense nicotine effect.

More definitive research into the possible dangers of e-cigarette use will have to be conducted before firm conclusions are drawn about the health risks. One group, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is urging the government to take action to regulate e-cigarettes – and to keep them out of the hands of kids.

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