A nationwide survey of kids in grades six through twelve shows that nearly 1.8 million of them have tried electronic cigarettes, more than double the rate reported the previous year.
The CDC says nearly seven percent of middle and high school students have tried e-cigarettes, and more than two percent are current users. Erika Sward of the American Lung Association says the rapid growth is due in large part to an aggressive marketing campaign.
“We’ve seen glamorized ads on TV. We’ve seen flavors that come in e-cigarettes now of bubble gum and cotton candy,” says Sward. “All of the traditional tobacco industry playbook for targeting kids has been used by the e-cigarette industry.”
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that provide doses of nicotine and other additives to the user in an aerosol. Their effects on health are still being studied, but Sward says two studies have found a variety of carcinogens in the vapor from e-cigarettes.
“The CDC’s study today is really the canary in the coal mine that should serve as a wake-up call to the Obama Administration and the FDA that they need to begin their oversight of these products,” says Sward.
Unlike most states, Kansas prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18. However, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt held two years ago that the state’s clean indoor air law does not apply to e-cigarettes.