A national survey confirms that e-cigarettes are increasingly popular among teens. Between 2013 and 2014, usage tripled among high school students. The Centers for Disease Control estimates there were 2.4 million e-cigarette youth users last year, and according to this year’s Iowa Youth Survey, e-cigarettes have overtaken regular cigarettes as a preference of Iowa teens.
Director for Tobacco Control and Lung Health for the American Lung Association in Iowa Megan Aucutt says that makes sense given what she’s seen and heard from Iowa teachers.
“I’ve been told that kids are hiding e-cigarettes in their backpacks. They can look like pens or highlighters,” she explains.
To smoke an e-cigarette, a person has to add a liquid that can contain very high or very low concentrations of nicotine. Many of these liquids, however, also contain high levels of formaldehyde. Aucutt says there are thousands of flavors on the market, including bubble gum and chocolate.
Dr. Matthew Trump, a pulmonologist with the Iowa Clinic, says without proper oversight, there's a possibility e-cigarettes will be harmful to the human body in a variety of ways.
"Electronic cigarettes do need further study. There needs to be more investigation into side effects, toxicity, and it should be regulated," he says.
During this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer talks with Aucutt and Trump about effects of nicotine on the teenage brain and about how teens learn to smoke.