Fewer US teens using tobacco, but e-cigarettes' appeal on the rise
Cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco products fell for both middle-schoolers and high school students, the Centers for Disease Control reports. But teens' use of e-cigarettes nearly doubled in one year.
Fewer American middle- and high-schoolers are using tobacco-derived products, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among students who did report tobacco use, cigarettes remained by far the most popular product.Skip to next paragraph
Fabien Tepper writes for the Monitor's science desk and weekly magazine. She holds a master's degree in Animals and Public Policy from Tufts University, and a bachelor's degree in art from Swarthmore College.
Bullied children more likely to consider or attempt suicide, report says
Twice the police, more security cameras on tap for Boston Marathon 2014 (+video)
Public transportation makes a comeback, but not in Boston (+video)
Portrait of Millennials: Call them Generation Unaffiliated
Mass. upskirt photos now illegal as lawmakers keep their promise
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Use of tobacco among high school students fell from 24.3 percent in 2011 to 23.3 percent in 2012. Among middle-schoolers, the drop was from 7.5 percent to 6.7 percent. But shifting trends among less common products have focused attention on electronic cigarettes – smokeless nicotine vaporizers whose use nearly doubled among teens in just one year, the CDC reported.
It's still a small sliver of teens who use e-cigarettes – 1.1 percent of middle-schoolers and 2.8 percent of high schoolers – but the tobacco-less cigarettes are almost unregulated because they are not classified as "a tobacco product." Some public health experts speculate that teens may perceive them as safer than traditional cigarettes, and that marketing is raising teen awareness of e-cigarettes. Although some municipalities have banned sales to minors, there are no restrictions on marketing that targets children, the Boston Globe reports.
RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about marijuana? Take the quiz
A growing segment of the e-cigarette industry does not support marketing to minors, Kip Schwartz, whose Washington, D.C., law firm represents a number of manufacturers and distributors, told the Washington Post. But some companies give their flavored e-cigarettes names – such as "Gummy Bear," "Candy Corn," and "Chick Magnet Cherry" – that seem targeted at the youth market. The US banned flavored paper cigarettes in 2009, amid arguments that flavors like chocolate, cherry, and clove were too appealing to young people.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a federal appeals court has empowered the US Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes as if they were tobacco products, and the FDA is at work on a regulation whose contents have not been disclosed.
Only three states – North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah – currently include e-cigarettes in their public and workplace smoking bans, along with about 100 cities.