WASHINGTON (AP) —
The U.S. surgeon general is calling e-cigarettes an emerging public health
threat to the nation's youth.
In a report
released Thursday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy acknowledged a need for
more research into the health effects of "vaping," but said e-cigarettes
aren't harmless and too many teens are using them.
"My concern is
e-cigarettes have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids
who are addicted to nicotine," Murthy told The Associated Press. "If that
leads to the use of other tobacco-related products, then we are going to
be moving backward instead of forward."
e-cigarettes turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor without the
harmful tar generated by regular cigarettes. Vaping was first pushed as
safer for current smokers. There's no scientific consensus on the risks or
advantages of vaping, including how it affects the likelihood of someone
either picking up regular tobacco products or kicking the habit.
show that last year, 16 percent of high school students reported at least
some use of e-cigarettes — even some who say they've never smoked a
conventional cigarette. While not all contain nicotine, Murthy's report
says e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco-related product among
Nicotine is bad
for a developing brain no matter how it's exposed, Murthy said.
"Your kids are
not an experiment," he says in a public service announcement being
released with the report.
illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors. Earlier this year, the Food and
Drug Administration issued new rules that, for the first time, will
require makers of nicotine-emitting devices to begin submitting their
ingredients for regulators to review. The vaping industry argues the
regulations will wipe out small companies in favor of more harmful
products, and likely will lobby the incoming Trump administration to undo
calls on parents and health workers to make concerns about e-cigarettes
clear to young people. He said local officials should take action, too,
such as including e-cigarettes in indoor smoke-free policies.