According to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this week, e-cigarette use among teens jumped 10 times from 2011 to 2015, while overall use of tobacco products has not declined during the same time period.
In 2011, 1.5 percent of high school students said they used e-cigarettes. Last year, that number increased to 16 percent of high school teens. Among middle school students, 6 percent of youth said they use e-cigarettes.
Of the 4.7 million teenagers estimated to use tobacco products, 3 million reported using e-cigarettes.
The statistics is causing concern from those at the CDC.
“E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, and use continues to climb,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “No form of youth tobacco use is safe. Nicotine is an addictive drug and use during adolescence may cause lasting harm to brain development.”
Adding to their concern is the lack of regulation on e-cigarettes and hookahs. According to the CDC, 7.2 percent of high schoolers actively used hookahs.
“The FDA remains deeply concerned about the overall high rate at which children and adolescents use tobacco products, including novel products such as e-cigarettes and hookah,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “Finalizing the rule to bring additional products under the agency’s tobacco authority is one of our highest priorities, and we look forward to a day in the near future when such products are properly regulated and responsibly marketed.”
The FDA has not accepted e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco. Limited studies have found e-cigarettes have their own risks, including the possibility of developing popcorn lung.
Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk.Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook.