As parents, the health of our children is one of our top priorities, so for a lot of us, the idea of seeing our vibrant teens puffing away on a cigarette is enough to make us ill. Unfortunately for us, despite the ever-decreasing allure of those cancer sticks, it hasn't been enough to turn our teens off tobacco entirely. In fact, our teens are using more tobacco products than ever, says PEOPLE.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new figures, detailing the shocking leap in teen use of tobacco products. According to the CDC, there has been an increase of more than 38% in teens dabbling in smoking products, and it's all down to the "fashionable" rise of e-cigarettes and vapes. Use of other tobacco items such as pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco and cigarettes all stayed the same, while e-cigarette use went up by 1.5 million in middle and high school students. Just over 20% of teens admit to using vapes, while only 8% smoke classic cigarettes.
It's a worrying statistic for parents to hear, especially as e-cigarettes were initially designed to help longterm smokers with addictions to gradually wean themselves off tobacco before quitting for good. Vaping also likely appeals to the teen market because of the wide variety of flavors that can be purchased, from bubblegum to mint, making it easier to ingest. CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield released a statement on the findings, calling the trend "troubling." He went on to outline the dangers of using any tobacco product but remains hopeful that the issue can be overcome.
"We know what works and we must continue to use proven strategies to protect America's youth from this preventable health risk," said Redfield. "Youth use of any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe." The organization has linked the rise in vape use to the sales of America's most popular brand, Juul, which according to People has a design similar to a USB drive that wouldn't seem out of place for a teen to be carrying at school.
It begs the question, should vapes be banned entirely if they're doing more harm than good?