e-cigarette gaining popularity among teenagers: CDC

Use of unconventional tobacco and smoking products are growing in popularity among U.S middle school and high school students, according to a report from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Especially, e-cigarette use has increased from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent last year.

CDC has surveyed the high school students' smoking patterns and per its report, titled 'Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,' e-cigarette use has increased among high school students from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent in one year. Use of hookah among high school students has also increased to 5.4 percent in 2013 from 4.1 percent in 2011.

The reason behind this increment is marketing, easy availability and visibility of e-cigarettes and hookahs. Another reason might be the perception among students that these products were "safer" in comparison to real cigarettes.

It is evident that these recent tobacco products like e-cigarettes, hookahs and cigars are not part of U.S. FDA regulations. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has shown interest in bringing products that meet the statutory definition of a "tobacco product," within the scope of Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Other factors that might add to the appeal of such products might be the number of varieties in which these are available. For instance, a product named "little cigars" looks almost identical to cigarettes and comes in various fruit and candy flavors.

Researchers also pointed that there was a significant increase in cigar usage among black high school students. Reportedly, the use of cigar among black high school students increased from 11.7 percent in 2011 to 16.7 percent in 2012.

"This report raises a red flag about newer tobacco products," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said in a press release. "Cigars and hookah tobacco are smoked tobacco -- addictive and deadly. We need effective action to protect our kids from addiction to nicotine."

"A large portion of kids who use tobacco are smoking products other than cigarettes, including cigars and hookahs, which are similarly dangerous," said Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "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." 

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S., killing at least 1,200 Americans every day, while smoking-related diseases cost Americans $96 billion every year in direct health care expenses, much of which is borne by the taxpayers.

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