In a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 13.4 percent of teenagers reported using e-cigarettes, which means that three times the number of teens have used this product just from 2013 to 2014. In 2013, that number was only 4.5 percent and in 2011 it was only 1.5 percent. Two million teenagers reported using the e-cigarettes in 2014, with one in four teenagers using some sort of tobacco product, whether it was cigars or smokeless tobacco.
The results of the study also showed that 3.9 percent of middle school students have used e-cigarettes in 2014, with this number only being 1.1 percent in 2013. This means that nearly 450,000 students in middle school are using e-cigarettes, and that is quite alarming to the anti-tobacco organizations. While e-cigarette use is going up, there is also a huge positive in this, which is that cigarette use is down in the teen population. For the first time in history, cigarette use is below 10 percent, which could be contributed to the uptick in e-cigarette use, considering that e-cigarettes are safer and don’t have all of the chemicals that are attached to cigarettes.
A lot of people tend to think that e-cigarettes are completely safe, but in reality the products contain nicotine, which is what is the addictive chemical in cigarettes. It is safe in terms of not having the additives and other chemicals in it, such as ammonia and formaldehyde though. Nicotine is pretty harmful in terms of brain development, especially in teenagers, and it can also increase the risk of addiction because the brain is not fully developed yet. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of all the smokers out there began smoking as teenagers, which increased the rate they became addicted to the nicotine.
While over 42 states have actually banned e-cigarette purchases to anyone under 18, it’s not hard to get the products online. There are a lot of online stores that sell the products without requiring any type of identification or a teenager could simply use a license of a sibling or parent and still order the product without any issues. The Food and Drug Administration is still considering different regulations for e-cigarettes, although there are e-cigarette makers that are disputing the proposals since the product does not contain the same chemicals as cigarettes. The makers say that while the e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, the harmful effects and ingredients found in tobacco are not present in the e-cigarettes, so therefore the sales do not need to be as regulated as tobacco products.
One thing about the Food and Drug Administration is that it takes a long time for regulations to actually go into effect, especially when companies are pushing back against the regulations. There also haven’t been enough long-term studies to determine the true benefits or negative aspects of e-cigarettes, since the products have only really become popular in the last 5 years. The Food and Drug Administration likes to see hard data and evidence when it comes to how products are harmful or helpful before making the regulations and putting them into practice.
According to a statement from the FDA, the proposal to regulate e-cigarette products led to there being over 135,000 comments from the public that the agency is going to review and consider. The massive amount of comments that have flooded the agency has been one reason why there has been such a delay in between the time of first considering the proposals and now, with still nothing being done to address the issue of the products getting into the hands of teenagers. The first time the agency talked about regulating e-cigarettes was in 2010, although those proposals would not ban the flavors like bubble gum, which anti-tobacco groups say is the flavors targeting the teenagers. Even once there is regulation, it will still be hard to regulate some online companies in terms of the age of who is buying the product, especially since a lot of these companies are not within the United States.