A new report shows more Wisconsin high school students are using e-cigarettes than are currently smoking regular cigarettes.
The 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey found 13.3 percent of high school students said they are currently using e-cigarettes – compared to 8.1 who said they are current smokers. The report also shows 2.6 percent of Wisconsin middle school students reported using e-cigarettes, which was double the number who said they have tried traditional cigarettes.
State Division of Public Health deputy administrator Chuck Warzecha worries about the growing use of the devices. “These trends are quite troubling,” he says, noting e-cigarettes are relatively new on the market and there is a fear usage may only continue to increase.
While Warzecha says many view the devices as safer, there are still concerns about the impact of nicotine on teen brain development and the increased risk of addiction early use could cause. Also, he says studies have found some of the chemicals in e-cigarettes can cause lung damage in users. “There’s growing evidence that there’s negative effects from e-cigarette use…and it’s significant,” he argues.
A big reason many students said they tried e-cigarettes was because of the flavors they are available in – such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate. About 88 percent of the high school students surveyed and 96 percent of middle school students said they would not have tried the devices if those flavors were not available.
Warzecha said the trend highlights the need for better education about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, both for teens and parents.