E-Cigarette Usage on the Rise

More than a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used electronic cigarettes in 2013, according to a CDC study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. This number reflects a three-fold increase, from about 79,000 in 2011, to more than 263,000 in 2013.

The data, which comes from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 National Youth Tobacco surveys of middle and high school students, show that youth who had never smoked conventional cigarettes but who used e-cigarettes were almost twice as likely to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes as those who had never used e-cigarettes. Among non-smoking youth who had ever used e-cigarettes, 43.9% said they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year, compared with 21.5% of those who had never used e-cigarettes.

"Mississippi is also following this national trend. Our public school smoking rates are on the decline but the rate of those who have ever used e-cigarettes is climbing at an alarming rate, in fact, it has almost doubled in high school seniors from 2012 to 2013 from 8.5% to 15.7%," said Sandra Shelson, Executive Director for The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. "We must take our lessons learned in our tobacco control efforts and use them to fight the same tactics the tobacco industry is using once again with e-cigarettes. Current efforts should include prohibiting e-cigarette usage in all public places including restaurants, bars and casinos, more research on the ingredients in the vapor from e-cigarettes and regulation of product placement."

It’s not surprising that youth use of e-cigarettes has gone up at the same time that e-cigarettes are being promoted using many of the same tactics long used to market regular cigarettes to kids. These include celebrity endorsements, slick TV and magazine ads that portray e-cigarette use as glamorous and rugged, sponsorships of race cars and music festivals, and sweet flavors such as gummy bear and cotton candy.

Although e-cigarettes are marketed as a "healthy alternative" to smoking, this is not the case. In fact, because there is no regulation by the FDA of e-cigarettes, manufacturers and vape shops can adjust the amount of nicotine in the products and offer almost any type flavoring. "In all reality this is Big Tobacco’s answer to declining smoking rates and is about them acquiring new users for their products. We will continue to fight these tactics as we continue to provide educational information and awareness to our youth about the dangers of tobacco and e-cigarettes," Shelson said.

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