Vaping takes off among teens, according to CDC data
Today's teens engage in risky behavior a lot less than teens in the past, but a new trend has gained traction. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey, which asks high schoolers about how often they engage in various "bad behaviors," such as drug use or unprotected sex, they are seemingly more responsible today than ever before.
Smoking e-cigarettes, however, has taken off.
Sometimes called vaping, smoking e-cigarettes requires the user to inhale either nicotine-containing or nicotine-free e-liquid vapor.
Though many high-schoolers claim to use nicotine-free options, it's still unhealthy. The sharp increase in use from 2013 to 2015 could indicate troubling public health patterns.
Because e-cigarettes can be used to smoke nicotine-free vapor, or vapor with less nicotine and fewer known carcinogens than standard cigarettes, some people argue that it's a healthy cigarette alternative. And, while this may be true, the vaping trend is still so new that there isn't much data to back up arguments for or against it.
However, a recent study from UC San Francisco found that, for many adults, vaping in an attempt to quit smoking may be in vain. According to their analysis, adults who use e-cigarettes are actually 28 percent less likely to quit smoking standard cigarettes.
Health care professionals worry that introducing vaping to teens with nicotine-free options might be a long-term marketing strategy. If teens become more comfortable with using nicotine-free stuff, they might be more willing to graduate to the nicotine options once they are adults.
Getting kids hooked on vaping and then later incorporating the addictive effect of nicotine could be a highly lucrative move for the e-cigarette companies -- especially considering how many teens and young adults already vape.
Though the e-cigarette industry has money to gain from this, the public has a lot to lose. Nicotine poses many health hazards and, despite recently passed legislation, much of the e-cigarette industry is still unregulated. These facts, combined with the most recent statistics on vaping, indicate that this trend could cause a lot of harm to public health in the coming years.