Who's more likely to start smoking? Scientific evidence shows that adolescent e-cigarette users are the ones more likely to start. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), teens who are e-cigarette users have a 30.7 percent chance of starting to smoke combustible tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and hookahs) within six months; whereas, non-e-cigarette users have just an 8.1 percent chance of smoking combustible tobacco products within six months.
As reported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), last year, more than two million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes. This type of cigarette use poses an enormous and avoidable health risk to teens in the United States. Some evidence even suggests that e-cigarette use is linked to alcohol use and other substance use, such as marijuana and cocaine.
Why should we care? It is important to prevent harm to youth and young adults from e-cigarettes – a public health disaster. We, currently, know more than enough to act to protect the health of our country's young people. Everyone has a role, including the government.
What steps should the government take to stop sales of e-cigarettes to minors? First, significantly increase the sales of e-cigarette products. State and local governments should consider imposing taxes on these products to discourage teen use. Second, aggressive media campaigns are essential to educate our youth on the harms of the products. Realistically, one way this could be funded is to require manufacturers to pay a specific percentage of their profits or sales into a fund that would be used to fund this media campaign.
Bottom line – tobacco addiction among youth is going down; however, don’t be fooled because big tobacco companies are now becoming big vaping companies. They need a replacement additive product. The FDA is right. E-cigarette use is indeed an epidemic and our teens are the target.