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21 December 2018, 05:16 | Rodolfo Wallace
Significant increase in e-cig use among youth prompts strong warning from US surgeon general
The percentage of U.S. high school senior students using e-cigarettes almost doubled from 2017, according to a new survey released Monday by the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As e-cigarrettes become more popular among teens and worries rise about a new generation that could become hooked on nicotine, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams laid out strategies to combat the crisis and took aim at Juul, which takes in more than 70 percent of sales. Officials say they will continue to crack down on stores that illegally sell e-cigarettes to minors.
The last advisory, in April, called for more people to carry the overdose antidote naloxone as the nation grapples with a record number of opioid overdoses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse on Monday released data showing that the number of high school seniors who say they used an e-cigarette within the last 30 days spiked by 75 percent since previous year, according to the advisory.
The devices first came onto the USA market around 2007. They have been pitched to adult smokers as a less-harmful alternative to cigarettes, though there's been little research on the long-term health effects or on whether they help people quit.
With smoking still the leading cause of preventable death in America, cutting out cigarettes remains a worthwhile goal, said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. The study found that Juul was found to contain more nicotine than any other brand of e-cigarette.
"But we can not let them ensnare younger Americans into a new addiction".
Reported use of e-cigarettes specifically in the last 30 days almost doubled among 10th and 12th graders, from 11 percent in 2017 to 20.9 percent in 2018, the survey said.
"We need to protect our kids from all tobacco products, including all shapes and sizes of e-cigarettes", Adams said in the advisory. "This is an unprecedented challenge". E-cigarettes create vapor from liquid that contains nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes.
Omaha high school students say they don't have to look far to see it, "we mostly see it in the bathrooms. lunchrooms, if a teacher is away we'll see it there", said Burke High School sophomore, Anna Anthony".
"We know that nicotine exposure during adolescence can uniquely harm the developing adolescent brain, impacting learning, memory, and attention", said Adams.
The surgeon general urged parents, doctors and educators to take a series of steps, including banning indoor vaping, and talking to kids about the dangers of e-cigarettes, mentioning by name the USB drive-shaped products made by JUUL.
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