I thought that this article from the Herald Bulletin was quite interesting and a little disturbing.

Each year millions of people resolve to quit smoking, and just as many teens are picking up a tobacco product for the first time.

Both groups are also looking at e-cigarettes as an alternative to traditional tobacco use, and a new study shows the use of e-cigarettes among teens has surpassed tobacco cigarettes in America.

According to DoSomething.org, nearly 4,000 adolescents under 18 experimented with tobacco on a daily basis and 1,000 of those will go on to become regular tobacco users.

The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study, which tracks trends in substance use among students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades, show 9 percent of eighth graders reported using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days, while only 4 percent reported using a tobacco cigarette.

In 10th grade, 16 percent reported using an e-cigarette and 7 percent reported using a tobacco cigarette. Among 12th graders, 17 percent reported e-cigarette use and 14 percent reported use of a tobacco cigarette.

Karesa Knight-Wilkerson, executive director of Intersect Inc., said more needs to be done to curb the growing number of e-cigarette users.

“Tobacco use among youth and adults is declining nationally said Knight-Wilkerson. “However, the study is confirming what we are seeing locally, that e-cigarettes are taking over, and we see more and more youth using these products.

One of the possible reasons for increased use of e-cigarettes among teens is the marketing of flavours used in the vaporizers that include candy and ice cream flavours which appeal to youth.

“It is appalling that companies continue to target youth with these addictive products,” said Knight-Wilkerson. “We know that 80 percent of all adults started smoking before the age of 18. We have learned from marketing executives that used to work for tobacco companies that they still have strategies that are directly targeting youth.”

Joe Stowers, owner of Hoosier Vapes, 1417 E. 53rd St., said Indiana prohibits the selling of e-cigarettes to minors, but he expects more regulation in the near future.

Although it is not illegal to allow minors into specialized e-cigarette outlets, like the one he owns, Stowers said he does not allow them into his store.

“As a personal choice, we don’t,” he said. “Not just for the liability reasons behind it, but I think it would give the wrong impression to the youth. We personally don’t let them into the building to avoid any issues that could arise with them being in here.”

Stowers said the idea of targeting teens as customers for e-cigarettes is ludicrous.

“No one is marketing to minors,” Stowers said. “I would call that completely false.”

Stowers said teens cannot afford to purchase the equipment needed to use the nicotine products in e-cigarettes.

“Minors are not gainfully employed and short of borrowing money from a parent, they cannot buy our setups that are $50 to $100,” he said. “It is kind of hard to say, ‘Hey, mom, dad can I have $100 to go shopping?’”

Stowers said the flavorings of the vapors used in the e-cigarettes are designed to appeal to taste buds, not children.

“To say because we have flavors, it is catered or marketed to kids — that is blatantly false,” he said, “and they know it.”

Stowers said he does not want e-cigarettes in the hands of minors, but he also does not want unnecessary restrictions on the products.

Knight-Wilkerson said regulations are necessary.

“Hookah, e-cigarettes, tobacco, e-cigars — it all has nicotine in it and it all is addictive,” she said. “I’ve seen too many people close to me die or suffer serious health effects because they became addicted to nicotine as a youth and couldn’t quit until it was too late and had done irreparable harm to their body.”

While evidence on the dangers of e-cigarette use is limited, people should be aware of the possible dangers before it is too late. She said people have a misconception that the products are safe and a better alternative to cigarettes, but they have various toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.

“Now look at the harm tobacco has wreaked on this nation in deaths and health costs and imagine what these ‘new tobacco products’ could do,” said Knight-Wilkerson.

She wants to see e-cigarettes put under the tobacco tax structure, with more FDA regulations on the products; she’d also like to see them kept behind counters like tobacco products.

Stowers said the taxes have not prevented tobacco use and it is unfair to level them against e-cigarette products.

“If minors are dead set on using it, they will find a way to get it,” he said.

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Is the use of e-cigarettes for long term harmful? What are the real effects of vaping? At this stage we do not have enough evidence to answer these questions. However I would think that introducing foreign substances into your lungs in the long term cannot be anything but harmful.

About Steve Gardiner

Stephen Gardiner originates from Rhodesia, (Zimbabwe) then working around the globe before finally settling in Brisbane Australia. As a scientist, Steve always had an interest in human development, especially Mind Plastisicity and how we cope with stress, anxiety and addictive behaviours. Over the past 15 years Steve has assisted many clients to transform their lives by resolving the obstacles holding them back.

Entries by Steve Gardiner