Electronic cigarettes were designed and marketed as safer alternative for smokers looking for a healthier form of nicotine delivery. The e-cig was first introduced into the Chinese market in 2004 as an aid to smoking cessation and replacement. It was never meant to lure non-smokers into tobacco smoking. However, many anti-ecig activists argue that attractive electronic cigarette flavors will lure non-smokers into trying them, and thus lead them into tobacco smoking.
As with many age-restricted and and regulated substances like tobacco, alcohol and drugs, it isn't all too surprising that an increasing amount of young people are exploring electronic cigarettes. Not to condone use by minors, but underage smokers who who make the switch to electronic cigarettes are undoubtedly reducing their chances of becoming addicted to cigarettes.
The risk is if nonsmoking youth begin utilizing these items and wind up becoming dependent on nicotine, and in turn switching to cigarette smoke. Although according to food and drug law specialist Azim Chowdhury in a presentation at the 2013 ECC expo, the nicotine in electronic cigarettes may be less addictive than that of tobacco smoke, as it is absorbed by the brain much slower. Furthermore, data in the CDC study shows that among teens who tried electronic cigarettes in 2012, 90.7%, that's a whopping nine out ten kids, had previously smoked cigarettes.
Also among the high school students who tried electronic cigarettes, only 7.2% had never smoked. It's pretty clear that the majority of adolescents who have tried electronic cigarettes are those that already smoke the tobacco variety.
Again, teens smokers who make the switch to e-cigs are likely reducing the harm done to their body, as well as the likelihood they become lifelong tobacco cigarette smokers. We shouldn't be worrying about the number of teens picking up e-cigs so much as we should about the number of them who smoke.
The extent of non-smoking youth who had tried e-cigs in the previous 30 days remained modest:
Overall, only 0.5% of survey participants were nonsmokers utilizing e-cigs in the previous 30 days
Among middle school students, just 0.4% were nonsmokers utilizing e-cigs in the previous 30 days
Among high school students, just 0.5% were nonsmokers utilizing e-smokes in the previous 30 days.
What the survey did not reveal was that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco smoking. Not one case involving a non-smoking youth using e-cigs resulted in nicotine addiction and subsequent tobacco use.
Another important fact to look at is that this survey only took into account those students who had TRIED electronic cigarettes, not those who were daily users. With the boom the e-cigarette market is currently experiencing, there is bound to be increase in users at all age groups. What the CDC needed to prove was that either electronic cigarettes are dangerous or that they were gateways to tobacco smoking. Thus far, they have proved neither.