First the good news:
Drug use among America’s youth is dropping. The rate of illicit drug use among children and teenagers 12 to 17 years old dropped to 9.5 percent, down from 11.6 percent a decade earlier, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest national survey.
Then the Bad:
However electronic cigarettes are gaining favor among U.S. teenagers. Per CDC, last year, 10% of high school students say they tried e-cigarettes, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. It seems to be fueled by an uptick of slick new marketing, which includes celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, Stephen Dorff and Courtney Love for the pitches. E-cigarette advertising, unburdened thus far by regulation, has ballooned from zero in 2008 to $3.7 million in 2011 and $19.9 million last year.
E-cigarettes heat a solution containing nicotine, which is derived from tobacco leaves, into a vapor that users inhale. An electronic cigarette can contain as much nicotine as a regular cigarette — or more. The amount of nicotine an electronic cigarette delivers depends on the content of the liquid-nicotine cartridge installed in it. Many e-cig manufacturers sell the products online, along with the required cartridges, batteries and other accessories.
Studies so far are mixed. Some cite potential hazards, including a secondhand effect from the vapor, and a small Greek study last year said e-cigarettes may damage the lungs. Cobb, the Georgetown pulmonologist, says because almost all are imported from China, there have quality-control issues, contamination concerns and widely varying nicotine levels. Some individuals, particularly those with health conditions that make them sensitive, have reported that the vapor is irritating to their eyes, noses and throats, and that it affects their breathing and makes them nauseous. The FDA is in the process of having e-cigarettes labeled as a drug-delivery device so they can be regulated [source 1=”FDA” language=”:”][/source]. Regulations vary, but some countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel and Mexico, have banned electronic cigarettes [source language=”:NPR”][/source].
TAKEAWAY: Don’t underestimate the long-term effects of these novel tobacco products. Avoid them and teach your kids to avoid them.
Source: multiple including CDC, howstuffworks.com and USAToday.com