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For teens, e-cigs now the smoke of choice

From Illinois Business Journal news services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, on Thursday blasted federal inaction in the wake of findings that suggest that teenagers, for the first time, are using e-cigarettes more than traditional cigarettes.

The findings are from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey. The data released Thursday shows that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students has not only surpassed conventional tobacco use, but has also tripled in just one year – growing from approximately 660,000 to 2 million high school students and 120,000 to 450,000 middle school students.

Durbin released a statement critical of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“While the FDA continues to drag its feet on finalizing commonsense regulations to protect children and teenagers from the dangers of e-cigarettes, the number of young people getting hooked on this potentially deadly habit is growing exponentially. Every day the FDA fails to move forward with federal regulation is another opportunity for Big Tobacco to peddle its newest product unchecked. The data continues to pile up, and the evidence has never been clearer: strong regulatory action on e-cigarettes cannot wait.”

This is the first time since the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey began including data on e-cigarettes that youth e-cigarette use has surpassed use of every other tobacco product, including conventional cigarettes. While 9.2 percent of high school students were found to use conventional cigarettes, 13.4 percent were found to use e-cigarettes. The CDC’s 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed that 4.5 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes, which was threefold increase in reported levels of use since 2011.

In April 2014, the FDA proposed a rule that would expand the agency’s regulatory authority to regulate e-cigarettes and other liquid nicotine delivery devices. The proposed rule fails to prohibit marketing to minors, the use of flavors, or online sales of e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices to minors. The FDA has not yet finalized these proposed regulations.

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