As a smoker who is using e-cigarettes to limit the amount of actual “these are going to kill me” cigarettes I smoke each day, I love the growing rise in the availability of these devices. Never mind that I can “smoke” them nearly everywhere, but competition has largely made them cheaper than their tar-filled, truly evil compatriots, which I love but that may ultimately prove the death of me.

E-Cigarette

Affects of Nicotine

This should not be confused with me believing that they are perfectly safe nor that they are not addictive. Thing is, however, I already have a nicotine addiction and have for over 25 years. On one hand, few doctors or experts would ever suggest that nicotine is good for you; on the other hand, even fewer would suggest that I’m not improving my health by lighting up less often and that they are not the safest nicotine delivery vehicles.

That said, kids should not be picking them up because of a perceived safety that doesn’t exist. Although, nicotine does remain a strong appetite suppressant, which is not a horrible thing in a country of over-eaters that  risk serious health issues later in life.

High school students using E-Cigarettes

The percentage of high school students who reported ever using an e-cigarette rose to 10 percent in 2012 from 4.7 percent a year earlier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Tobacco Survey released today. Last year, 1.8 million middle and high school students had tried the cigarettes.

“The increased use of e-cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “Nicotine is a highly addictive drug. Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes.”

That is a legitimate concern. At the same time, life should have its addictions. I don’t necessarily trust people who don’t drink, smoke, or swear.

FDA taking over tobacco as regulators

In typical government fashion, the FDA—which took over as the regulators of tobacco products in 2009—are dragging their feet when it comes to e-cigarettes, something that Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said is “deeply disturbing.”

The percentage of high school students who used e-cigarettes within the past 30 days rose to 2.8 percent in 2012 from 1.5 percent in 2011. Of this group, nearly 75 percent also smoked standard cigarettes, which suggests that some regulation is surely needed.

“These dramatic increases suggest that developing strategies to prevent marketing, sales, and use of e-cigarettes among youth is critical,” Tim McAfee, director of the Atlanta-based CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in the statement.