Electronic Cigarette Use Doubles Among Adolescents in 1 Year

Damian McNamara

September 06, 2013

Middle and high school students in the United States more than doubled their use of electronic cigarettes between 2011 and 2012, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

In 2012, 10% of high school students reported ever using an electronic cigarette, or "e-cigarette," up from 4.7% the year before (P < .05), Catherine Corey, MSPH, from the US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, Silver Spring, Maryland, and colleagues report in the September 6 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Their analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey also shows that 2.7% of middle school students reported ever using an electronic cigarette in 2012 compared with 1.4% in 2011 (P < .05).

Overall, among students in grades 6 through 12, e-cigarette use significantly increased from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012 (P < .05). The researchers estimate that as of 2012, 1.78 million students have ever tried an e-cigarette, which is a battery-powered, aerosol device that delivers nicotine and other additives.

Similar increases emerged for current e-cigarette use, which was defined as use for 1 day or more in the past 30 days. In 2012, current use was 1.1% vs 0.6% in 2011 among middle school students, and 2.8% vs 1.5%, respectively, among high school students. Both increases are statistically significant (P < .05).

Interestingly, an estimated 160,000 students who reported ever using an e-cigarette also reported they had never smoked a conventional cigarette. "This is a serious concern because the overall impact of e-cigarette use on public health remains uncertain," the authors write. "In youths, concerns include the potential negative impact of nicotine on adolescent brain development, as well as the risk for nicotine addiction and initiation of the use of conventional cigarettes or other tobacco products."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Food and Drug Administration officials plan to continue surveillance and research of e-cigarette use, including its potential as a gateway to more conventional tobacco products and its long-term health effects.

"Given the rapid increase in use and youths' susceptibility to social and environmental influences to use tobacco, developing strategies to prevent marketing, sales, and use of e-cigarettes among youths is critical," the authors conclude.

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;62:729-730. Abstract

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