E-Cigarette use Among Teens
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Tobacco use is illegal for teenagers and young children – but that doesn’t keep cigarettes out of their hands. Worse, children and teens are becoming more and more drawn to e-cigarettes, with their attendant exposure to nicotine and often worse chemicals.
E-cigarettes are touted by the industry to be a safer alternative to smoking, as well as a way to help smokers reduce their dependence on tobacco cigarettes. By offering cartridges with decreasing doses of nicotine, e-cigarettes are an attractive option for those seeking to quit smoking. A close examination of the e-cigarette market, however, shows that e-cigarette use has increased among teens – many of whom have never smoked regular cigarettes.
Last April, the Centers for Disease Control reported that “e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014,” and that e-cigarettes are now affecting over two million students. Warning that any nicotine use is dangerous for the developing brains of children, the CDC is worried that this trend is causing lasting harm and will ultimately lead to long-term tobacco use among students who now “vape.” This prediction is backed up by the sobering statistic that “about 90 percent of all smokers first tried cigarettes as teens; and that about three of every four teen smokers continue into adulthood.”
The American Lung Association is also concerned about e-cigarettes, in part because the chemicals used in each brand of vapor can vary widely, and because there is insufficient evidence to conclusively show whether they are, indeed, a safe alternative to regular cigarettes, especially when nicotine is involved in such varying – and largely unregulated – amounts. In the absence of FDA oversight, the ALA concludes that “there is much to be concerned about,” especially as marketing targets youth with candy flavors and the glamorization of e-cigarettes.
In Florida, legislators won a victory in the battle against e-cigarette use among teens with the passing of Florida Senate Bill 224. In 2014, Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law, banning the sale of all e-cigarettes to minors, joining many other states that have already done so.
At Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore, we hope all parents will work to avoid exposing their children to e-cigarettes and educate their teens and pre-teens on the dangers – real and possible – of any nicotine habit. If you or your loved one has been harmed by e-cigarettes, you may have options. Contact us today for a free consultation.