Electronic Cigarettes, Hookahs New Fad For Teenagers: CDC
November 15, 2013

Electronic Cigarettes, Hookahs New Fad For Teenagers: CDC

Ranjini Raghunath for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) and hookahs are fast becoming popular among middle and high school students, according to a newly-published report by the Center for Diseases Control (CDC).

Between 2011 and 2012, the number of students who used e-cigarettes nearly doubled and those who used hookahs increased by almost 1.5 times, according to the study, which was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR),. The data was collected as part of the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2012.

Increased availability of these products in the market, the expanded publicity that they have been getting, as well as the impression that they might be “safe” alternatives to regular cigarettes are some of the possible reasons why their use is increasing among school students, the report said.

The report also mentioned that cigar use is similarly increasing among students, particularly among ethnic groups such as non-Hispanic black students, with numbers increasing similar to cigarette usage.

Some varieties, such as little cigars that look just like cigarettes and can be sold individually, are becoming especially popular, because they are cheaper and come in different flavors, otherwise banned from regular cigarettes. More than one in three students used these flavored cigars, the report said.

The data raises a “red flag” about these new tobacco products, highlighting the need to increase the number of strategies to reduce tobacco use among teens, according to CDC Director Tom Frieden.

“As we close in on the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of smoking, we need to apply the same strategies that work to prevent and reduce cigarette use among our youth to these new and emerging products,” he said, in a statement.

While cigars and hookahs are already known to be deadly and addictive, as Frieden pointed out, there is no clear consensus on how dangerous e-cigarettes are.

E-cigarettes have been in the news ever since they hit the market in 2007, and are being sold worldwide, with options available to purchase online as well.

An e-cigarette looks just like a regular cigarette, but runs on battery and has an atomizer and a cartridge filled with liquid nicotine. When you puff on the cigarette, the atomizer vaporizes the liquid and sends a nicotine-filled vapor straight to your lungs. The only difference is that because there is no burning, it doesn’t “smell” like regular cigarettes.

Some studies claim that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and that they can help battle smoking addiction. Yet, there is no conclusive proof to show that they are completely safe. To date, the FDA has not regulated their use, but has warned against their indiscriminate use before the effects are completely studied and understood.

As of 2011, in the United States, one in five adults who are regular smokers has tried out these e-cigarettes, the CDC earlier reported.

Smoking kills more than 5 million people each year and close to 450,000 people in the United States alone. Smoking-related diseases cost the US government $96 billion a year in direct health care expenses, most of which comes from tax-payers’ dollars, the CDC report said.