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CDC study shows increase in e-cig use among teens

Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL

CDC study shows increase in e-cig use among teens

A female model demonstrating use of an electronic cigarette. Photo by Michael Dorausch, obtained via Wikimedia Commons

A female model demonstrating use of an electronic cigarette. Photo by Michael Dorausch, obtained via Wikimedia Commons

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta recently released a study showing that the use of electronic cigarettes among teenagers tripled in 2013 compared with usage rates in prior years.

Two local school systems say their policies already ban the use of these products by their students.

According to the CDC study, which was published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research journal, 263,000 middle and high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2013, compared with 79,000 in 2011.

“The data, which comes from the 2011, 2012, and 2013 National Youth Tobacco surveys of middle and high school students, show that youth who had never smoked conventional cigarettes but who used e-cigarettes were almost twice as likely to intend to smoke conventional cigarettes as those who had never used e-cigarettes,” a summary of the report says. “Among non-smoking youth who had ever used e-cigarettes, 43.9 percent said they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year, compared with 21.5 percent of those who had never used e-cigarettes.”

CDC spokesperson Darryl Konter said that dozens of states, including Georgia, ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people under 18.

Atlanta Public Schools and City Schools of Decatur also ban e-cigarette use on campus.

CSD spokesperson Courtney Burnett said the current school system policy forbids using these devices.

“The CSD Student Drug Policy contains the language, ‘or possess, use, distribute, or be under the influence of chemicals or products that may result in a state of exhilaration or euphoria or otherwise alter mood or behavior.’ According to the National Institute of Health, nicotine is an addictive chemical that boosts mood and stimulates memory and alertness and this information from NIH squarely places nicotine (including from electronic cigarettes) in the category of chemicals that alter mood or behavior,” Burnett said.

APS has a similar policy, according to officials there.

Spokesperson Jill Strickland said, “This is Atlanta Public Schools’ policy: Students shall not use, purchase, possess, sell, distribute, consume, be under the influence of, or have the odor of any kind of controlled substance as defined by state law. These prohibitions include, but are not limited to: anabolic steroids, substances that look like drugs, cigarettes, imitation controlled substances, drug paraphernalia and other substances such as crack, glue, LSD, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc.”

DeKalb County Schools officials did not return messages seeking comment.

The evidence of increased e-cigarette use among teenagers is worrisome for CDC officials.

“We are very concerned about nicotine use among our youth, regardless of whether it comes from conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes or other tobacco products.  Not only is nicotine highly addictive, it can harm adolescent brain development,” Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a press release.