E-Cigs Popular Among Young Students

Electronic cigarette use has doubled recently among US middle and high school students

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Most smokers pick up the habit when they are teenagers. And regular tobacco cigarettes may not be the only thing teens are smoking. Now, electronic cigarettes appear to be attracting young students at a faster pace each year.

In a recent survey, researchers asked American middle and high school students about their tobacco use.

The results of the study showed that use of electronic cigarettes doubled among young students from 2011 to 2012.

"Talk to your teen about e-cigarettes."

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracked electronic cigarette use by middle and high school students in the US from 2011 to 2012.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are metal devices that run on batteries and mimic the act of smoking. They turn liquid containing nicotine into an aerosol form for inhalation.

At the moment, liquid nicotine and e-cigarette devices are unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Since e-cigarettes are relatively new to the market, and the liquid nicotine used in the devices contains unregulated concentrations of nicotine, no research exists on the long-term health outcomes of e-cigarette use.

Based on data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the CDC researchers found that e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 4.7 percent in 2011 to 10.0 percent in 2012. E-cigarettes were used by a total of 1.78 million middle and high school students in 2012 alone.  

In 2011, 1.5 percent of high school students said they had used an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days. By 2012, 2.8 percent of high school students said they had used an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days.

The researchers reported a similar doubling of rates of e-cigarette use among middle school students as well. 

Only one out of every five middle school students who had used an e-cigarette had also smoked a regular cigarette. But, 76.3 percent of middle and high school students combined said that they had smoked e-cigarettes and also smoked regular cigarettes.

This finding suggests that middle school students may begin using e-cigarettes before transitioning to smoking regular cigarettes.

“Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes,” Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC Director, said in a press statement.

“These data show a dramatic rise in usage of e-cigarettes by youth, and this is cause for great concern as we don’t yet understand the long-term effects of these novel tobacco products," Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a press statement.

This report was published in September on the CDC website.

Review Date: 
September 8, 2013
Last Updated:
September 9, 2013