CDC study: Teenagers are abandoning cigarettes in droves for e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have grown in popularity, particularly among youths (AFP)

E-cigarette use jumped from 2011-2014, but proportion of high schoolers who reported smoking cigarettes fell steeply over the same period

E-cigarette use among high school students jumped almost tenfold from 2011-2014, but the proportion of high schoolers who reported smoking cigarettes fell steeply from 15.8% to 9.2% over the same period, according to a new

study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, based on tens of thousands of responses to federally administered National Youth Tobacco Surveys, found that tobacco use among US middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) students fell off for most products – cigarettes, cigars, pipes and smokeless tobacco – in the years under study.

Two products recorded steady gains in popularity, however – hookahs and e-cigarettes.

“Consequently, 4.6 million middle and high school students continue to be exposed to harmful tobacco product constituents, including nicotine,” the study concluded.

Hookah or water-pipe use grew from 4.1% to 9.4% in the years under study, according to the CDC, while e-cigarette use grew from 1.5% o 13.4%. E-cigarettes were the most popular products in the study.

The CDC brackets e-cigarettes with other “tobacco products”, although the nicotine in e-cigarettes may not necessarily come from a tobacco plant.

Advocates of e-cigarettes say the level of risk is significantly less than with traditional cigarettes because they deliver a hit of nicotine without the array of cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

But some researchers are concerned that people will become addicted to the nicotine in e-cigarettes instead. The long-term health consequences of vaping are not yet well known.

E-cigarettes heat liquified nicotine, which may be extracted from a tobacco plant, into a vapor for inhalation.

CDC director Tom Frieden has warned of their dangers, although he acknowledged that “stick to stick, they’re almost certainly less toxic than cigarettes”.

“If they get another generation of kids more hooked on nicotine and more likely to smoke cigarettes, that’s more harm than good,” Frieden said last year.

Earlier this month, the CDC reported that poison center calls relating to e-cigarettes had jumped from an average of one a month in 2010 to 215 a month in 2014, with more than half of those calls (51%) involving young children under the age of five.

“Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue,” Frieden said. “E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

Tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, according tothe CDC.