Teen consumption of e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) is clearly on the rise, especially in the state of Hawaii, according to recent findings from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and two additional U.S. research institutions.
E-cigarettes are cigarette substitutes that contain nicotine and a number of other secondary ingredients. While some researchers tout the use of these products as a safer alternative to cigarettes or as a means to quit using cigarettes, others express reservations about the known and unknown harms associated with their intake.
In a report issued in December 2014, researchers sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse note a substantial year-to-year increase in e-cigarette use among U.S. teens. A separate study published in January 2015 in the journal Pediatrics relays evidence of a particularly high rate of use among teens living in the state of Hawaii.
All e-cigarettes contain a nicotine-based solution held in some sort of chamber. When a user activates an e-cigarette, an electric charge generated by a battery ignites this solution and turns part of it into a vapor. The user inhales this vapor and thereby receives a dose of nicotine through the same basic pathway (i.e., the lungs) as that taken by the nicotine in a tobacco-based cigarette.
Proponents of e-cigarettes believe that the substitution of these devices for the consumption of nicotine/tobacco steeply reduces users’ exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals and additives found in traditional cigarettes. Other claimed benefits for e-cigarettes include an improved ability to successfully limit nicotine intake, an easier transition from addicted tobacco use to eventual smoking abstinence and a reduced level of second-hand smoke exposure in the general public.
However, not all experts agree that e-cigarettes play a positive role in personal or public health. Underlying reasons for this general point of view include the presence of known and unknown harmful and potentially cancer-causing chemicals in the nicotine-based solutions found in e-cigarettes (including the antifreeze ingredient propylene glycol), the potential for e-cigarettes to act as a springboard to addicted nicotine/tobacco use (especially among adolescents), the lack of adequate understanding of the overall health impact of e-cigarette use and the lack of adequate state and federal legislation that regulates the substances contained in e-cigarettes or the circumstances in which e-cigarettes can be sold.
Nationwide Use Of E-Cigarettes Among Teenagers
Every year, the National Institute on Drug Abuse authorizes researchers at the University of Michigan to conduct Monitoring the Future, a nationwide survey project that details substance use patterns among all U.S. teens enrolled in the 12th, 10th or eighth grades. In recent years, this project has included e-cigarette use among its many points of focus.
Monitoring the Future figures from the year 2014 indicate that teenagers in the U.S. now use e-cigarettes more often than they use traditional nicotine/tobacco cigarettes. Never before has such a situation occurred.
Among the nation’s eighth graders, monthly e-cigarette use is more than twice as common as the monthly use of nicotine/tobacco cigarettes. Tenth graders also use e-cigarettes more than twice as often as traditional cigarettes in the typical month. Only among 12th graders do the rates for monthly e-cigarette use and monthly cigarette use come close to each other; still, 12th graders consume e-cigarettes somewhat more often than they consume nicotine/tobacco cigarettes.
E-Cigarettes And Teens In Hawaii
In the study published in Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Hawaii and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center used survey data from 1,941 Hawaiian teenagers to estimate how often adolescents in this state use e-cigarettes. The researchers carried out the bulk of this project in the year 2013.
After reviewing the collected information, the researchers found that 17 percent of the responding teens identified themselves as users of e-cigarettes but not of traditional nicotine/tobacco cigarettes. Another 12 percent identified themselves as users of both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes, while 3 percent identified themselves as traditional cigarette consumers who don’t use e-cigarettes. The remaining 68 percent of the respondents did not claim any involvement in e-cigarette use or traditional cigarette use.
The rate of e-cigarette-only use uncovered by the researchers (17 percent) applies to Hawaiian teenagers of all ages. It roughly equals the rate found among 12th graders in the rest of the U.S. Tenth graders outside of Hawaii have a slightly lower rate of involvement in e-cigarette use (16 percent), while eighth graders outside of Hawaii have a much lower rate of involvement (9 percent).
It’s crucial to note that these comparisons exclude the 12 percent of Hawaiian teens who consume both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. Overall, Hawaiian teenagers apparently use e-cigarettes substantially more often than their counterparts in other parts of the U.S.
E-Cigarette Use On Rise In High Schools – Is Strict Regulation On The Horizon? – Find Out More Now!