The new 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (YTS) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more youth in the U.S. are using e-cigarettes than any other tobacco product, including conventional cigarettes.
The CDC’s survey also shows that e-cigarette use by high school students rose from 4.5% in 2013 to 13.4% in 2014—an increase of around 1.3 million more e-cigarettes users in just one year. The study also found that e-cigarette use increased substantially for middle school students—from 1.1% in 2013 to 3.9% in 2014 (equating to roughly 300,000 additional e-cigarette users in just one year).
The findings are similar to those by the 2014 Wisconsin YTS, which reported that 8% of Wisconsin high school students use e-cigarettes.
“These results are concerning, especially since nicotine is known to be harmful to adolescent brains,” said MacKensie Pampuch, coalition coordinator for the South Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition in Mauston. “As a public health professional, it’s frustrating to see the progress we’ve made in reducing youth and adult tobacco use be threatened by the increasing popularity of these unregulated products.”
The coalition shared that heavy TV and radio advertising, as well as fruit and candy flavors, may be contributing to the higher youth e-cigarette usage rates. Under federal regulations, conventional cigarettes cannot be advertised on TV or radio and cannot include flavors with the exception of menthol.
Other concerns cited by the coalition included that:
• E-cigarettes produce an aerosol that may contain harmful components like nicotine, ultrafine particles, heavy metals, and formaldehyde.
• E-cigarettes remain unregulated, making it impossible to know what users and bystanders are exposed to when they are in use.
• E-cigarettes are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an effective cessation device.
Pampuch encouraged tobacco users to call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line for free help at 1-800-QUIT NOW. For more on local tobacco prevention and control efforts in Mauston and the surrounding area, call (608) 847-9403 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.