CDC study shows increase in e-cigarette use among children

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The popularity of electronic cigarettes is growing and not just among adult smokers.

From 2011-12, "e-cigarette" use among middle and high school students increased from 3.3 percent to 6.8 percent. The same survey from the Centers for Disease Control found the number of students who had used one in the previous month doubled.

Health officials are concerned many kids are getting a first taste of nicotine through e-cigarettes and then moving on to regular cigarettes.

The cigarettes come in flavors like bubble gum and cookies and cream, which may tantalize the taste buds of a younger generation.

"What we've seen is rapid increase in e-cigarette use in both middle schoolers and high schoolers. In fact, it doubled in just a year," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

The e-cigarettes use water vapor instead of tobacco smoke to deliver a hit of nicotine. It's that highly addictive substance that has experts worried.

"Kids' brains are highly susceptible to nicotine. They're easily addicted and that addiction can be lifelong," Frieden said.

The suggestion is that nicotine addiction could be a gateway to using tobacco. The products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and minors can legally buy electronic cigarettes in more than half of all states in the nation.

In Indiana, a law went into effect this year banning the sale of e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18.

The parent company of Blu e-cigarettes, Lorillard, released a statement in response to the CDC survey.

"We agree the rise in youth usage pointed out by the CDC is unacceptable and that is why we look forward to a regulatory framework for e-cigarettes that restricts youth access, while at the same time doesn't stifle what may be the most significant harm reduction opportunity that has ever been made available to smokers," the statement read.

Some former tobacco smokers insist what they call "vaping" helped them to quit smoking. Scientific studies exploring the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as quit aids are ongoing.

The CDC study found that overall, 10 percent of high school students have experimented with e-cigarettes, but three quarters of those also smoke regular cigarettes.