Teenagers use of e-cigarettes on the rise

Teenagers use of e-cigarettes on the rise

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ATLANTA -

Electronic cigarettes are gaining popularity among teenagers. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 7 percent of teenagers – 1.8 million nationwide – have tried e-cigarettes.

FOX 5's Chris Shaw said that every teenager he talked to Friday night at a local high school football game had heard of e-cigarettes. Several said they or their classmates smoke them because they believe they're less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

"When I first heard about it, I really wasn't surprised, because I think kids look for an alternative for what we say nicotine is," said parent Teressa Cochran. "But what they don't understand is they're still inhaling the nicotine."

So how much nicotine are they inhaling? And is it dangerous?

The battery-powered cigarettes give users an aerosol puff, and most brands do include nicotine, but they're not federally regulated and there isn't enough research to offer concrete evidence to say what their effects are.

Industry advocates say they're safe.

"It doesn't create any second hand smoke, It's a water vapor that quickly evaporates into the atmosphere," said Matt Salmon, the president of the Electronic Cigarette Association.

Dr. Chirag Patel, a lung specialist at Wellstar Douglas, says there could be some use for the devices in helping people quit the real thing, but he worries about teenagers picking them up.

"There is some literature out there to say that this e-cigarette may actually be a gateway to smoking, as younger patients pick up e-cigarettes," Patel said. "They get used to the current amount of the nicotine fix. They need something more substantial, they move to proper smoking."

Some students said they knew of teens who had smoked e-cigs but then moved on to traditional cigarettes because they're cheaper.

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