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    Should 16 be the age for e-cigarette purchases?

     

    Tobacco use usually starts in adolescence, with 90% of smokers first trying before age 18 years. Overall, 24.6% of high school students and 7.7% of middle school students reporting using some type of tobacco in 2014, and 46% of high school students and 17.7% of middle school students admitted at least trying a tobacco product in 2013. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 3800 adolescents try their first cigarette every day, and 2100 become daily smokers. Most start with some type of flavored tobacco, according to AAP, and more students report trying e-cigarettes before traditional cigarettes. According to AAP, 2.5% of middle school students and 9.2% of high school students reported trying cigarettes in the past 30 days in 2014–down 4.3% and 15.8%, respectively, from 2011. On the other hand, 3.9% of middle school students and 13.4% of high school students reported trying e-cigarettes in 2014—an increase of 0.6% and 1.5%, respectively, from 2011. Hookah use has increased, as well, up 1% in middle school students, and 4.1% in high schoolers.

    Next: How marijuana legalization puts kids in harm's way

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends combatting tobacco use among adolescents by increasing costs and taxes, raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 years, promoting participation in school and community groups, and more. Advertising to children and childrens should also be targeted, CDC says, and while cigarette advertisements have been limited, AAP found that exposure to e-cigarette advertisements among 12- to 17-year-olds increased by 256% from 2011 to 2013 with ads appearing on the 100 highest-rates youth programs.

    Electronic cigarette use is increasing, according to another AAP report, which reported e-cigarette used at 29% among Hawaiian high school students in 2013—a figure much higher than previously estimated.

    The AAP has called for increased regulation of e-cigarettes, particularly through improved child-proof packaging, citing increased instances of nicotine poisoning among children. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported 3353 year-to-date exposures related to e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine in 2013. These products are appealing to children because of their bright colors and candy-like flavors, says AAP. The AAP says the exposure figures reported by AAPCC in 2013 have more than doubled in 2014, and most exposures occurred in children aged younger than age 6 years. The AAP reports 2689 liquid nicotine exposures for 2015 as of October 31. Just 1 teaspoon of liquid nicotine can be lethal to a child, and smaller amounts could cause serious illness, says AAP.

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare ...

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