A new study says that the numbers of middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, greatly increased from 2013 to 2014.
A report by the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that e-cigarette use among high school students went from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014. The numbers for middle school students grew from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014.
Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told The Washington Post, "It’s a really bad thing, and it is subjecting another generation of our children to an addictive substance.”
Frieden claims that any kind of nicotine use can harm a teen's brain and e-cigarettes will lead to smoking real ones, even though traditional smoking rates have fallen among these age groups.
Michael Siegel, a professor and tobacco-control specialist at Boston University’s School of Public Health, stated, "The CDC should really be jumping for joy at the fact that smoking rates are declining. This is a huge success. Instead, they are using this as another opportunity to demonize e-cigarettes.”
Siegel added that it “shouldn’t take a rocket scientist” to conclude that e-cigarettes are not as dangerous as real cigarettes because there is no smoke and few chemicals.
However, there is not enough data to know the long-term effects of smoking e-cigarettes.
Still, some school districts consider e-cigarettes to be drug paraphernalia in an effort to stop students from bringing e-cigarettes on campus.
While e-cigarettes are not currently regulated by the U.S. government, the National Conference of State Legislatures states, "At least 42 states and 1 territory currently prohibit sales of electronic cigarettes or vaping/alternative tobacco products to minors."
When asked about e-cigarettes, Federal Drug Administration (FDA) spokesman Michael Felberbaum told USA Today:
Rulemaking is a complex process, and this particular proposed rule resulted in more than 135,000 public comments for the agency to review and consider. FDA is committed to moving forward expeditiously to finalize the rule that will extend its authority to additional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and other currently unregulated tobacco products.