Smoking and the use of other tobacco products, including cigars and smokeless tobacco, cause numerous diseases and conditions, especially to teenagers. However, the popularity of electronic cigarettes among teenagers has increased exponentially from 2011, according to the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Current electronic-cigarette use among high school students increased from 4.5 percent of all students in 2013, to 13.4 percent in 2014. The percentage of middle-school smokers also increased from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 3.9 percent in 2014.
Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, said the primary reason for increased popularity of e-cigarettes among teenagers is their long-term exposure to media entertainment, such as movies and TV shows. According to Teen Health and Media, the average American teenager spends about one-third of their free time watching television. By age 18, a teenager will have seen 350,000 commercials: many of them about cigarettes, alcohol and drugs.
Increasingly, movies and TV shows have been depicting scenes in which celebrities use electronic cigarettes. These scenes inspire the teenage audience to react by smoking e-cigarettes themselves.
In Los Angeles, local students interviewed by JSR voiced their agreement with the CDC’s announcement.
Tina Chun, a junior at Franklin High School, told JSR, “not only seniors but also freshmen and sophomore kids smoke in my school. Electronic cigarettes especially are good smoking tools for teenagers since they don’t smell like anything else, but candy and perfume. Only a small number of students get caught when they smoke.”
The CDC added that when a teenager gets exposed to nicotine regularly, the teenager is more likely to become an addict when he or she grows up.
Dr. Babington, a health teacher at Crescenta Valley High School, told JSR, “It is surprising that the electronic cigarette is a popular new tobacco-product among many people in America, but it still has not been strictly regulated by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Using electronic cigarettes has almost the same effect as smoking regular tobacco, because experienced users learn how to use e-cigarettes in a way that increases their exposure to nicotine, which increases the risk for a kid to become an addict.”
Youths are using e-cigarettes at increasing and alarming rates. In order to protect them from exposing themselves to higher risks, it is recommended that teenagers be educated by a variety of educational institutions such as schools or public-health organizations. Avoiding inappropriate media entertainment and Internet websites is another good way to protect teenagers from serious health conditions, according to the CDC.