Surgeon general warns against e-cigarette use in youth

The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health threat to the nation's youth. Chicago has also imposed a tax on "liquid nicotine products", a move one alderman said was meant primarily to make e-cigarettes too expensive for young people.

"Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain".

Three million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, up from 2.46 million in 2014, according to data from the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "We know that our developing brains in young adults are more susceptible to nicotine addiction", says Kevin Dick, Washoe County Health Officer.

Although manufacturers have to disclose the ingredients contained in the vapor, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't prohibit vape sellers from targeting minors with e-cig advertising.

Federal figures made public Thursday show that previous year, 16 percent of high school students reported at least some use of e-cigarettes, even some who said they've never smoked a conventional cigarette.

Murthy says he worries that e-cigarettes "have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine".

Research shows that young people are more likely to try flavored e-cigarettes and believe they are less harmful than tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.

Public education campaigns targeted to youth and young adults, like Truth Initiative's truth, campaign have made tremendous advances in preventing youth from using an array of tobacco products. "Now we must apply these strategies to e-cigarettes".

"I've traveled around the country and many young people and many adults don't recognize e-cigarettes are not harmless".

"We have an alarming number of youth using e-cigarettes", Murthy told CBS News. Before that, a 13-year-old or 12-year-old could buy an e-cigarette.

Unlike other tobacco products that have been proved to cause potentially lethal health problems, "scientists are still working to understand more fully the health effects and harmful doses of e-cigarette contents when they are heated and turned into an aerosol", the report says. In 2015, 1 in 6 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month. "They do that with a lot of other products... they do that to get attention", he said.

He said vaping helped him wean off cigarettes. As if that wasn't enough, stores placed them in the candy aisle.

Story does not oppose regulation across the board.

Dreyer praised the report, noting, "When the Surgeon General comes out with a report, it gives a lot of heft to these concerns". "An industry without regulation is really not an industry", said Story, who said his industry has been pushing for "age verification, GMP standards, and obviously all the products being tested and complying with the regulatory limits that have been set".

  • Aubrey Nash