Connecticut public health officials say a survey shows the number of high school students who are vaping doubled from 2015 to 2017.
The survey taken from March 2017 through June 2017 found nearly 15 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes, compared to 7.2 percent in 2015. It found 10 percent of ninth graders and 20 percent of 12th graders used the devices.
Part of the reason use has increased may be because teens don’t think vaping is as problematic as traditional cigarette smoking, according to Dr. Tregony Simoneau of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
“I think what people don’t know what kids don’t understand is that the levels of nicotine that are found in these products are still quite high.”
Simoneau, a pulmonologist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, told NBC Connecticut kids often think vaping is safe because the devices are marketed as a way to quit more harmful tobacco products.
Because the devices don’t emit the same smell as cigarettes, their use can be harder for parents to detect, resulting in children vaping more kids and potentially becoming addicted.
“Adolescents in general, they want to try new things. They want to try what’s out there. They think this is safer. It’s a knowledge gap, people not understanding the risks of addiction,” she said.
Health and education officials across the country have been raising alarms over widespread underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. They are notoriously difficult to detect, often leaving behind only a quick puff of vapor.
Public health Commissioner Raul Pino said Thursday the survey results are troubling because youth are generally unaware of the presence of nicotine in the devices and can quickly become addicted.