A new report by the U.S. Surgeon General shows an alarming trend in e-cigarette use among teens. E-cigarettes are now more popular with teenagers—specifically middle and high school students—than regular tobacco cigarettes. Between 2011 and 2015, e-cigarette use in this age group more than tripled. What’s worse is that six in ten teens that participated in a national survey did not know that e-cigarettes are harmful.
Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain the addictive chemical nicotine. Nicotine can be especially damaging to those under the age of twenty-five: it can cause mood disorders and issues with impulse control and learning. Flavored e-cigarettes, which are popular, have additional dangers. Some of the chemicals used, including heavy metals such as lead, tin, and nickel, and the car-exhaust component benzene, are linked to serious lung disease.
The report found a correlation between increased advertisement of e-cigarettes and their popularity with teens. In fact, the Surgeon General and other public health experts accuse the multibillion dollar e-cigarette industry of attracting teens and young adults with candy-flavored and fruit-flavored products. The report explained that while scientists are still researching the health effects of e-cigarettes, “there is already enough evidence to justify efforts to prevent e-cigarette use by young people.”