October 17, 2013 —

Every month, we’re keeping you informed on the latest studies and research in our “Not My Teen” blog series. Today, we’re looking at the use of electronic cigarettes in middle and high school youths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report stated that between 2011 and 2012, the rate of e-cigarette use increased from 3.3 percent to 6.8 percent among students in sixth through 12th grades.

In middle school students, both experimentation (from 1.4 to 2.7 percent) and habitual use (from 0.6 to 1.1 percent) of e-cigarettes increased from 2011 to 2012. Similarly, the numbers in high school students’ experimentation (from 4.7 to 10 percent) and habitual use (from 1.5 to 2.8 percent) jumped during the same timeframe.

The CDC’s findings also revealed correlations between habitual use of electronic and tobacco cigarettes. Of the middle school students who reported habitual use of e-cigarettes, 61.1 percent reported regular use of tobacco cigarettes, while 80.5 percent of high school students that habitually used e-cigarettes, smoked tobacco cigarettes as well.   

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for regulating tobacco products, does not include the battery-powered e-cigarette devices in its regulatory purview.

Parents need to understand the potential harmful effects of this risky behavior, the implications for adolescent brain development and the risks associated with nicotine addiction. As many states do not have age restrictions for purchasing this device, parents should talk to their kids about this risky behavior to prevent them from experimenting or regularly using e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes.

Learn more about this report and its findings here.