Tobacco Use Surges Among Young People, Triggered by E-Cigarettes

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CDC Director Robert Redfield said the "skyrocketing" growth of young people's e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use. More than one in four high school students smoked or vaped within the previous month, the CDC found, and use of any tobacco product grew by almost 40 percent between 2017 and 2018.

On Feb. 4, organizers from anti-tobacco group NYC Smoke Free traveled with students to the capital on Legislative Education Day, to show their support for more comprehensive tobacco control programs.

Second-year University of Calgary health sciences student Devin Aggarwal said youth vaping has been linked to higher smoking rates of tobacco cigarettes.

"E-cigarettes could be playing a role in the patterns of use we're seeing among kids in terms of cigarette smoking", he said, adding, "It is possible that we are reinforcing and perpetuating dependency".

E-cigarettes are generally considered better than cigarettes for adults who are already addicted to nicotine.

While we know about the harmful effects of traditional cigarettes and vaping, new heated tobacco devices are no less toxic to the human lung cells than ordinary cigarette smoke, said researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

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The CDC said the number of current cigarette smokers and consumers of other tobacco products in middle and high school remained roughly stable from 2017 to 2018.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes also pose other health hazards, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's principal deputy director.

A group of Calgary students and doctors are pressing the provincial and federal governments for stricter regulations for vaping and e-cigarettes. "We know very little about the health effects of these new devices, so we designed this research to compare them with cigarette smoking and vaping", added Sharma. "... Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe". In the past, Gottlieb has said that he would consider halting sales of e-cigarettes while companies go through the FDA review.

Gottlieb said these trends could force the FDA "to make some tough decisions about the regulatory status of e-cigarettes".

Battery-powered e-cigarettes heat a nicotine liquid that users inhale, and have been gaining popularity in the United States and overseas. Men also used tobacco products more frequently than women. The rise has been so significant that it has wiped out any progress in declining youth tobacco use in recent years, according to a report published Monday.

"Legislators and policy-makers are responding, but we need rapid action to ban advertising to youth including through social media outlets, restrict purchases including online, raise the age of purchasing nicotine products to 21, ban vaping in places where tobacco is prohibited, and ensure that nicotine vaping products are taxed like other tobacco products", he continued.