A warning for parents about the dangers of electronic cigarettes and the popularity of them in teen users.
According to a recent study by the CDC, the number of middle and high schoolers using electric, or e-cigarettes has doubled. Now 1.78 million students in that age group say they have tried this type of cigarette.
Doctors say e-cigarettes are like the wild west. They are not regulated by the FDA, so we don't know what goes into the flavoring. Some do have nicotine, which makes them just as addictive as a traditional cigarette.
Dr. Scott McIntosh, with the University of Rochester Medical Center, says the problem is the fact that now almost two million middle and high school students nationwide are using e-cigarettes.
Dr. Scott McIntosh, Assistant Director of Smoking Research Program at URMC, said, “Because 90% of people who say they have ever used an e-cigarette say they have also used a real cigarette and 67% of current e-cigarette users are also using traditional cigarettes, so there is a great deal of over lap and the common element is nicotine, which is addictive.”
So what is an e-cigarette?
Zachary Johnson said, “It is electronically based. It's all water vapor, there is some nicotine in there. There are certain levels. It ranges from 0-20.”
Zachary Johnson is 18-years-old and sells e-cigarettes at a kiosk in Marketplace Mall. Johnson even used them to quit smoking himself.
Johnson said, “We actually have a sign right here actually that says you have to be 18-years-old or old. We don't do minors.”
Just like real cigarettes, it is illegal to sell electronic ones to anyone under 18. But later in the interview with News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri, Johnson seems to change his story.
News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri said, “Do you have a lot of teen actually come here and try to purchase these things?”
Johnson said, “Actually, that's a lot of our customer base.”
While the perception for many is that these electronic cigarettes are safer because there is no tobacco, doctors say don't be fooled.
Dr. McIntosh said, “It is not even healthier. Research is still being done and some research shows that as much as three out of ten cigarette products have as many carcinogens as traditional cigarettes and some products may have more.”
Ciavarri said, “With these increased numbers in middle and high school students, what do parents need to know?”
Dr. McIntosh said, “They need to known there is a high likelihood their children are going to be offered these or exposed to them. Most people think they are safer, so they may not be as worried as traditional cigarettes, but given to overlap between the two and the uncertainty of how dangerous e- cigarettes are, parents should give them the same messages as traditional cigarettes.”