E-cigarette use popular among teens, says study
A new report found more teens are opting for electronic cigarettes for the "coolness factor," and to gain more societal acceptance.
The study from the University of Southern California, and published in Pediatrics on July 27, surveyed more than 2,000 11th and 12th graders from a variety of ethnic groups and found that e-cigarettes are becoming more normalized thanks to a positive social environment.
E-cigarettes aren't just popular among those teens that have smoked a real cigarette. In fact, 40 percent of e-cigarette smokers indicated they had never smoked a cigarette before.
Dr. George DiFerdinando of New Jersey Breathes said there's still a lot unknown about e-cigarettes. "We do not know what our youngsters are taking into their lungs with e-cigarettes. We do know there is nicotine involved." He added that nicotine is addictive and with the explosion in e-cigarette use among youth, it's likely that some teenagers are becoming addicted to nicotine.
DiFerdinando also suggested that as these students get older and are addicted to nicotine, they may use traditional cigarettes, which have been proven to cause cancer.
It's likely that teens are being influenced by those in their lives. In fact, nearly 35 percent of e-cigarette users had another e-cigarette user at home, according to the study.
Social circles could also be attributing to the increase in e-cigarette users. According to the study, among current e-cigarette smokers, nearly 50 percent had three or four friends who used e-cigarettes.
The study also found that 91 percent of teens using the battery-operated devices said they are getting popular feedback for using e-cigarettes. "Often popular acceptance runs in the opposite direction on how beneficial it is," DiFerdinando said.
On the political front, some municipalities in New Jersey, including Princeton, have increased the age of sale of these cigarettes to the age of 21.
DiFerdinando said making it more difficult for teens to obtain e-cigarettes is an excellent idea.
"In terms of all of the opinion makers, it is important for them to realize just how prevalent e-tobacco use is. It is remarkable. It is several times more popular than the use regular cigarettes right now."
E-cigarettes first came on the market in 2007.