Feature

Health scare of the week: The perils of e-cigarettes

The number of middle and high school students in the U.S. who have tried electronic cigarettes has doubled within a year.

The number of middle and high school students in the U.S. who have tried electronic cigarettes has doubled within a year. Nearly 2 million teens now report that they’ve experimented with the devices, which use water vapor to deliver nicotine to the lungs and bloodstream. “The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tells The Washington Post. “Nicotine is a highly addictive drug.” E-cigarette makers contend the devices are safer than traditional cigarettes because they don’t burn tobacco and therefore don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide. But the devices hook teens on nicotine and thus may encourage them to try traditional cigarettes; three out of four teens who said they’d tried e-cigarettes had tried traditional cigarettes, too. Anti-smoking advocates say e-cigarette companies are marketing directly to kids by offering flavors like cherry, strawberry, and cookies and cream, potentially setting them up for a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

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