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About 11% of young adults in the United States now actively use electronic cigarettes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a new report.
The report, from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, adds to growing concerns about the harms of vaping.
Overall, about 1 in 20 adults are e-cigarette users, with young adults (aged 18 to 24) vaping most frequently, according to the report.
“If e-cigarettes were being used as we would hope, the only people who should use them are those who are using them to quit smoking, murano fabric ” said Dr. Joanna Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, who was not involved with the new research. “You would see very different patterns,” Cohen told CNN.
Rather, young people who have never smoked cigarettes are the bulk of consumers.
The report, which spotlights e-cigarette use in 2021, also finds that use of e-cigarettes declines with increases in family income.
“Tobacco companies are masters of targeted marketing as well as manipulation,” Cohen said. “They want to make products that are attractive and appealing to a variety of demographics and ages. They also heavily promote their products … to particularly what we might call vulnerable populations.”
E-cigarette sales are booming in the United States. The CDC previously reported that 22.7 million products were sold each month by 2022. New brands emerged, and younger consumers were snapping up popular fruit and candy flavors.
Middle-age and older Americans are less likely to use e-cigarettes, the new report noted. About 11% of people over 45 smoked cigarettes rather than e-cigarettes. Those under 44 were more likely to use both.
White adults were the racial group most likely to use e-cigarettes, the findings showed.
The American Heart Association (AHA) this week issued a statement warning about the health harms caused by using e-cigarettes, noting dangerous ingredients include addictive nicotine and flavoring agents.
These substances have the potential for risk of heart and lung disease, according to the AHA. Some studies have found links to asthma, emphysema and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
“There is research indicating that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are associated with acute changes in several hemodynamic measures, including increases in blood pressure and heart rate,” Dr. Jason Rose, chair of the AHA scientific statement writing committee and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in an AHA news release.
It’s also possible that e-cigarettes may contain substances such as THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana), methamphetamine, methadone and vitamins, the statement warned.
“The long-term risks of using e-cigarettes are unknown, but if the risks of chronic use are like combustible cigarettes … we may not observe them for decades,” Rose said. “It is necessary for us to expand this type of research since the adoption of e-cigarettes has grown exponentially.”
The AHA does not recommend using e-cigarettes as a quit-smoking tool. No international regulatory agency, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has approved e-cigarettes for that use, CNN noted.
Cohen said, however, that e-cigarettes may be less harmful than combustible cigarettes. She views them as a last quit-smoking resort after nicotine replacement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (a type of talk therapy).
“The only people who should be using e-cigarettes are people who are smoking cigarettes and trying to quit,” Cohen said. “Cigarettes are absolutely not safe: They’re one of the worst things you could do for yourself. Anything in comparison to cigarettes is going to be a bit better than cigarettes. Not safe, but better.”
The American Lung Association has more on e-cigarettes and lung health.
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