Electronic cigarettes — or e-cigs — are a growing industry, and they're not just popular with adults. New data from a federal report reveals use of the devices is increasing for teenagers, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
"The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a statement referenced in the article. "Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes."
According to the study, one out of 10 high school students in the U.S. used e-cigarettes in 2012, which doubles their use in 2011. The number of high school and middle school students using e-cigs in 2012 adds up to 1.78 million children and teens.
Unlike traditional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco. Instead, they convert nicotine into a vapor the user inhales. And, like cigarettes, selling e-cigs to minors is prohibited by law, but some believe the e-cig industry targets teenagers with various fruit- and mint-flavored products.
"When you see cotton candy, bubble gum and atomic fireball flavors, there's no question these products are being marketed directly at kids," said Erika Sward, American Lung Association vice president for national advocacy, in the article. "I think this data really shows our concerns are real."
But electronic-cigarette companies insist the products are not sold to minors, and some e-cig websites bar entrance if the viewer is under 18.