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NEW YORK — More students in middle and high school are using electronic cigarettes, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Friday, the CDC said that between 2011 and 2012, among students in sixth through 12th grades, e-cigarette use increased from 3.3% to 6.8%.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver water vapor with nicotine and have been marketed as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes. While the Food and Drug Administration regulates tobacco products, it does not regulate e-cigarettes, and many states do not have age restrictions on their sale to minors, according to the CDC. While studies are ongoing, the CDC said some e-cigarette cartridges contain potentially harmful chemicals such as irritants, genotoxins and animal carcinogens.
The agency also found that among middle school students, the number of students who had tried e-cigarettes increased from 1.4% in 2011 to 2.7% in 2012, while habitual use of e-cigarettes increased from 0.6% to 1.1% during the same period, while use of both e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes increased from 0.3% to 0.7%. Slightly more than 20% of middle schoolers who had tried e-cigarettes reported never smoking tobacco cigarettes, while among those who habitually used e-cigarettes, 61.1% reported habitual smoking of tobacco cigarettes as well.
The figures were higher among high school students, as those who had tried them increased from 4.7% in 2011 to 10% in 2012, and habitual use increased from 1.5% to 2.8% during the same period. As with middle schoolers, use of e-cigarettes among high schoolers correlated with use of tobacco cigarettes, as only 7.2% of those who had tried e-cigarettes had never tried tobacco cigarettes, while 80.5% of those who habitually used e-cigarettes also smoked tobacco cigarettes.
Experimentation and recent use of e-cigarettes doubled among middle and high school students during 2011-2012, the report found, with 1.78 million students using e-cigarettes last year, while 160,000 of those who used e-cigarettes had never used tobacco cigarettes.
"This is a serious concern because the overall impact of e-cigarette use on public health remains uncertain," the report read. "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."
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