Parents and health care officials worrying at the use of cigarettes among teens now have something else to be worried about - e-cigarettes.
Cigarettes in its electronic form have seen a huge spurt in demand among teens in the last few years. In a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 2.5 million students from middle and high school have been found to have used e-cigarettes. This marks a sharp rise in use of e-cigarettes, from just 1.5 percent in 2011 to 13.4 percent in 2014.
In what can be termed as a silver lining to an otherwise looming dark cloud, the use of conventional cigarettes during the same period has seen a steady decline from 16 percent to 9 percent, mentions USA Today.
Health officials are no less worried though, as e-cigarettes still contain nicotine which can cause damage to the brain. This is particularly important during the adolescent period when the brain is in its most active development phase.
E-cigarettes contain nicotine in liquid form, an added flavour along with some other chemicals which are converted into an inhalable vapour using battery.
There have also been some reports that suggest e-cigarettes to be also releasing formaldehyde, claims Matthew Myers, executive director of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.
"What we've also seen is that some substances that are benign in food like vanilla when heated and inhaled become highly dangerous to the lungs," Myers further added.
The American Heart Association too has voiced their concern over the rampant use of e-cigarettes which they claim can be equally damaging to the heart as the traditional cigarettes.
Apart from e-cigarettes, hookahs too have been gaining popularity among the teen community, NPR reported. Hookahs use a water chamber to filter the smoke from burning tobacco which many believe is less dangerous, a fact that health care workers clearly refute. That notwithstanding, studies have found some 9.4 percent high schoolers being addicted to hookahs.
Makers of e-cigarettes argue that they are actually helping teens give up smoking. There are also those who claim the smoke from burning tobacco as is the case in traditional cigarette is more dangerous than in the case of e-cigarette. Federal health officials though say it's a worrying trend as long as its nicotine that is being ingested.
FDA has sought to have adequate regulations in place to control spread of e-cigarettes among teens but cite the lack of adequate research in this field hampering progress.