The increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes, otherwise known as vaping, has medical professionals concerned for young people.
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent in 2011 to over 13 percent in 2014.
Donnie Novak, 21, of Donora, smoked every day for five years until his grandfather was diagnosed with throat cancer. He then made the switch to vaping, and after 18 months says his health improved.
“We all wanted to quit. I tried cold turkey, nicotine patches, everything. Nothing worked,” Novak said. “Two to three weeks after I started vaping, I didn't have any sensation for a cigarette at all.”
Physicians like Dr. Brian Primack, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, worry about vaping advertisers targeting teenagers and young adults.
“A lot of the attractiveness has been focused on young people,” Primack said. “These marketers are very, very sophisticated. They're very well-funded. The fact they're teaching 18 million young people is not just an accident.”
Vape advertising is up almost $100 million from 2011 to 2014.
“A lot of the themes of the advertisements are the same themes we saw with traditional themes we saw with big tobacco advertisements generations ago; themes like sex, rebelliousness, independence,” Primack said.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states with little-to-no regulation for vaping. It’s up to each store’s discretion to determine who, and at what age, it will sell to.
“It's just a matter of time before they set some time of regulations upon us,” Michael King, the owner of The Vapor Den in Scottdale, said.
He said not anyone can walk through the door of his business.
“I don't really see any company, juice manufacturer, gearing their product toward children. That's not our goal. Our goal is to get adults from smoking onto a healthier alternative,” King said.
But from a doctor's perspective, vaping is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes for young people.
“Among young people, absolutely not. There's no reasons for a young person to be using one of these things,” Primack said.
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