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Youth Embrace of E-Cigarettes Troubling Health Officials

Sep 09, 2013

Photo source: Mashable.com

Electronic cigarette use more than doubled among middle and high school students last year, raising fears among public health officials that the trend could easily lead young people to conventional tobacco.

Nearly 2 million middle and high school students said they used e-cigarettes in 2012.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report showing that 10 percent of high school students said they tried one of the lithium-powered devices in 2012, compared with 4.7% in 2011. Usage also doubled among middle school students at 2.7%, up from 1.4% in 2011.

The findings come from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, an annual questionnaire given to roughly 20,000 students.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered and turn nicotine-laced liquid into an aerosol mist. Conventional cigarettes are banned to youth under 18 years of age, but there is little federal oversight of the new “smokes,” although more than two dozen states have moved since 2010 to ban their sale to minors.

As previously reported in Dental Wire, there are many harmful effects of even smokeless tobacco on oral health. These include an increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease, difficulty healing after a dental procedure as well as staining of the teeth, tongue, and bad breath. Limited dental care treatment options such as a dental implant and a reduction in oral sensations like tasting and smelling are also common effects.

"The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said. "Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Many teens who (sic) start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes."

Adding to the popularity of e-cigs among youth is their availability in flavors like strawberry, chocolate and bubble gum. Other factors leading to their growing use is their easy availability on the Internet, television advertisements and their glamorization by Hollywood celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, Ryan Gosling and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Proponents of e-cigarettes say they are less harmful than conventional cigarettes. "It takes something that you enjoy doing and at the same time not do as much damage to your body - that's what it's all about," said Andrew Osborne, owner of Vapor Trail Electronics in Buffalo, New York.

But the CDC says the health effects are not clear yet. Because e-cigs are relatively new they are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that could change next month.

Source: Wall Street Journal, wgrz.co, Newsday


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