The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the use of electronic cigarettes among teens is at an “epidemic” level.
The FDA launched “The Real Cost” campaign in an effort to educate teens on the dangers of smoking e-cigarettes. According to the FDA, nearly 10.7 million teens ages 12-17 use e-cigarettes or are willing to use them.
The National Youth Tobacco Survey was created in 2016 to collect data on current e-cigarette users. The FDA found 39 percent of teens used e-cigarettes because a friend or family member had one, 31 percent of teens enjoyed the access to multiple flavors and 17 percent of teens believe they are less harmful than other tobacco products.
The FDA recently announced a new regulation rule allowing evaluation of product ingredients, design, health risks and appeal to youth. Manufacturers and small businesses have been given 60 days to submit a new tobacco application plan that will reduce product usage in teens.
Some people are eager for the regulation while others remain neutral.
With high schoolers in mind, senior therapeutic recreation major Bailey Cole supports the new regulation rule
“I think e-cigarettes are harmful. However, I think it’s a lesser known fact that they are, so a lot of high schoolers who want to smoke turn to e-cigarettes as a ‘healthier’ alternative. Being roped into it is just like any other peer pressure situation,” Cole said.
“When your friends are doing it, you are more likely to do it. If the kids you want to be like are doing it, you are going to try it. I think the real problem is that kids start using them without realizing the actual effects.”
Junior Sarah Gaston and polymer science engineer remains neutral when it comes to e-cigarettes.
“I like how when someone puffs on it, it’s not like the cigarette smells that makes you cough when you walk by. The only downfall I have to it is I don’t want to see it in class.” Gaston said.
High schools are taking a hit on the use of e-cigarettes by their students. The most common brand, Juul, is easily concealable from teachers.
Juul’s Chief Administrator Ashley Gould said their products are intended for adults who want to quit smoking rather than students or non-smokers.
The FDA intends to minimize the accessibility and usage of tobacco products by youth by enacting their regulation. Commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration, Scott Gottlieb told CNBC the company is open to new ideas that restrict usage.
“I think if someone came to us with a good idea about how a product could be modified to be less appealing to kids or less prone to misuse by children, we’d be very interested in that product, and we’d be very interested in having a discussion around that and how we could put that through an efficient regulatory process,” Gottlieb said.
The trend of e-cigarette use among teens has seen an incredible growth within the last year. Only time will tell if the FDA’s new rule will lower the statistics.