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E-cigarette use reaches new high with middle and high school students

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Electronic cigarettes have become the new, improved cigarettes. They are designed to be the healthy alternative to cigarettes: nicotine delivered at self-proportioned levels, plus a variety of flavors and vapor instead of smoke.

Electronic cigarettes are usually built of three parts, a cartridge which holds the liquid substance known as vapor, a vaporizer that works as a heating device for the liquid vapor and a battery to charge the vaporizer. Debate has surrounded this electric counterpart and if there should be regulations in place to restrict usage. It is argued they can be a gateway to wean those addicted to smoking cigarettes. Yet, many people are merely replacing an addiction for a “smoke free” option that can actually increase the amount of nicotine some people inhale.

The issue at hand is not as focused on the use of e-cigarettes with adults, but with teenagers, and the accessibility of electronic cigarettes. Stores that sell electronic cigarettes can even reduce and limit the amount of nicotine in the vapor pen. This means teenagers can breathe in flavored vapor with almost no nicotine. Still, does the advent of e-cigarettes promote the habit of smoking?

The statistics

A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, measured the use of e-cigarettes in middle and high school students from 2011 to 2014. High school students’ use of e-cigarettes spiked from 2013 and 2014 going from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014. With an increase in middle school students use moving from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014.

Director of the CDC, Tom Frieden M.D., M.P.H., commented on these results with, “We want parents to know nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar.” Even though electronic cigarettes seem to be the lesser of two evils, do they present danger for addiction?

The methods of restriction

The fact remains that e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other chemicals which can be harmful to the body, even if they lack the smoke from burning tobacco leaves. Thus, the FDA is working to regulate and restrict the usage of electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products used by teenagers.

Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products affirms, “These staggering increases in such a short time underscore why FDA intends to regulate these additional products to protect public health.” The FDA is working to implement new regulations on all tobacco-based products, in response to the surge in use. These products are gateways to use of stronger products with nicotine and tobacco. With such a drastic increase in use among children, it is for their benefit to restrict usage.

Possible plans for addressing this is through distribution and marketing of tobacco products. The CDC has plans to initiate programs to control the price of tobacco and support media campaigns. The purpose is not to control teenagers and their decisions, rather to guide them and parents in understanding the dangers of nicotine use. On the slippery slope riddled with drugs and gateways to drugs, there needs to be control and limitations. With limitations in place, teenagers can grow up understanding and acknowledging the dangers of these products and trends.

There are numerous options available for those who are trying to quit smoking. Talk to your doctor about which options are right for you:

  • Proper use of pharmaceutical products to help stop the cravings such as nicotine gum
  • Strong counselor and a support group
  • Logging the amount of money you would spend on cigarettes, e-cigarette cartridges and such to learn how much you could save
  • Many people smoke to relax them and help them transition between daily stressors and tasks; there are natural drinks designed to help keep you calm and focused like “Just Chill”
  • Others smoke out of boredom or for a little pick-me-up; there are gums which offer stimulus for the oral fixation and are infused with Vitamins B6 and B12 to offer that subtle increase in energy

These are only a few of the options available to those who need help to break an addiction or habit to cigarettes. E-cigarettes introduce teenagers to the habit of smoking and once again revamp the notion that smoking is still cool. Ironically, the e-cigarette fad arguably belittles the last 30 years of health promotional ads which taught otherwise. The uphill battle begins anew for the Department of Health and clinicians to educate on healthier and cheaper alternatives to e-cigarette use; hopefully the simultaneously growing trend of natural supplements in our diet, health and wellness will gradually replace the trend.

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