Broward Palm Beach New Times
Yesterday, the American Lung Association warned that middle and high school children are smoking electronic cigarettes at a "troubling" rate.
Data released from the Centers for Disease Control shows that between 2011-2012, the number of 6-12th graders reporting having ever used an e-cigarette more than doubled -- from 3.3 percent to 6.8 percent. Use of e-cigs among 6-12 year olds increased from 1.1 percent to 2.1 percent. (Six-year-olds???!!!) Twenty percent of the middle schoolers who admitted smoking e-cigs said they had never smoked a traditional cigarette, compared to 7.2 percent of high school students.
A group called the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association has argued that fears about electronic cigarettes are largely overblown. The group lobbies to keep them legal and readily available, at least for adults, because they are a great tool for weaning people off deadly conventional cigarettes.
That group's president, Elaine Keller, says that the CDC's news about kids trying e-cigs is alarmist -- but CASAA is in favor of laws that prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to minors anyway.
The group's legislative director Greg Conley released a statement:
Three habit descriptors are typically surveyed when asking about tobacco or drug use -- ever use, past 30 day use, and daily use. It is daily use that is clearly correlated with youth continuing to use the products rather than just experimenting a few times. Real public health practitioners and policymakers should not allow experimentation by youth to cloud their judgment about the great health benefits experienced by adult smokers who switch to e-cigarettes.
State lawmakers should continue to pass and enforce bills banning e-cigarette sales to minors, but should resist calls by misguided organizations to enact further restrictions on these life-saving products.
Keller said the FDA's draft industry regulations are now expected in October.
Of course, any new technology can spur unforeseen consequences. Some experimenters have discovered that electronic cigarettes are a creative new way to smoke hash oil. And authorities from high schools in California -- where medicinal marijuana is legal -- have warned that e-cigs' smokeless technology makes it easy for teenagers there to smoke hash oil in class when the teacher's back is turned.
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