In 2014, e-cigarettes surpassed cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco product by middle school and high school students, according to an annual U.S. survey.
Teens’ fascination with this nicotine-dispensing smoking alternative worries physicians and toxicologists. Data from a growing number of studies indicate that electronic cigarettes are far from harmless. They also pose their own addiction risk.
Chemicals in e-cigarettes can damage lung tissue and reduce the lungs’ ability to keep germs and other harmful substances from entering the body, studies have found ( SN: 12/27/14, p. 20). The flavored e-cig liquids can do their own damage. And the lungs — not to mention the young brain (see “ Nico-teen brain,” below) — may be particularly vulnerable to nicotine’s effects.