- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Smoking remains popular among young people in Indiana, but not in the form of traditional cigarettes, according to a report released Wednesday by Indiana University researchers.

This year’s Indiana Youth Survey determined that fewer high school students are using tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars and pipes. However, one in four of the state’s 12th graders had used an electronic vapor cigarette, also known as an e-cigarette, in the month before taking the survey.

“This new tobacco delivery system technology is being heavily used by our youth in Indiana, and we’ve really got to pay attention to that,” said Ruth Gassman, executive director of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, which conducted the survey.

The survey, which was formerly called the annual Survey of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use by Indiana Children and Adolescents, was distributed to 111,585 students in grades six through 12 at 324 public and private schools in Indiana, The (Bloomington) Herald Times (http://bit.ly/1JgUfaz ) reported. It was the first time the survey included a question about the students’ use of e-cigarettes.

About 15 percent of students in grades seven to 12 said they used vaping products at least once in the month before taking the survey.

More students in Indiana used e-cigarettes than the national average for students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades. Those students also used e-cigarettes more than other tobacco products.

“What we can gather is that students have this misconception it’s somehow safer than smoking a cigarette,” Gassman said. “I think the tobacco industry is really intentionally marketing e-cigarettes that way to make them appear, kind of by implication, that they’re safer than smoking a cigarette.”

Although the Indiana University researchers couldn’t compare current e-cigarette use in the state to the same data from last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said e-cigarette use tripled among middle and high school students nationwide from 2013 to 2014.

“The kids think it’s cool because it’s so novel,” Gassman said.

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Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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