More teens are taking up smoking. But it's different this time. Now, they're experimenting with electronic cigarettes. While this might sound like a step up from real cigarettes, a lot it still unknown about the product. Originally thought up all the way back in the 1960s, e-cigarettes have received both praise and skepticism. While they claim to help smokers quit, there are unanswered questions: Are there long-term effects we don't know about? Do they actually help?
These unanswered questions are worrisome paired with the recent increase in use among teens. Recently, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released startling figures: 4.7 percent of high schoolers noted they had used an e-cigarette in 2011; by 2012, that number more than doubled to 10 percent.
While public health experts note that there hasn't been any evidence regarding the safety of the electronic cigarettes, the Director of the CDC said in a statement that, "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." If that doesn't scare you, the figures will: The study found that, in total, 1.78 million middle- and high-schoolers had tried the faux cigarettes in 2012.
Currently, the FDA doesn't regulate e-cigarettes (though they are planning to), so there isn't a minimum purchasing age. Be sure to keep an eye out on what your kids are buying and be sure to talk to them about the potential and unknown dangers associated with smoking anything.