- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 8, 2016

An “alarming” rate of teenagers and young adults are using electronic cigarettes, according to an Obama administration report Thursday that says one in six high school student use “e-cigs” or “vapes” despite strides in cutting the use of traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The report by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy amounts to a stern call to clamp down on the products, which process nicotine into an inhalable vapor.

He said the federal government should continue to regulate e-cigarettes and their marketing, raise and strictly enforce minimum-age requirements on their sale and incorporate the devices into existing smoke-free policies.

“We cannot let the enormous progress we’ve made toward a tobacco-free generation be undermined by e-cigarettes and other emerging tobacco products,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said.

The relative danger of e-cigarettes has been a major point of contention. Some say the devices help people wean themselves off the habit without the harmful, carcinogenic byproducts of regular cigarettes.

Others say the devices are creating legions of new, mostly young, smokers.

Dr. Murthy’s report said the use of e-cigarettes is “strongly associated” with the use of other tobacco products, and that manufacturers target youth with an array of flavor options.

“We need parents, teachers, health care providers and other influencers to help make it clear that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals and are not OK for kids to use,” Dr. Murthy said.

Dr. Murthy said the aerosol created by e-cigarettes can be harmful secondhand, exposing others to chemicals.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration said retailers could no longer sell electronic cigarettes to people under age 18.

The agency said its “historic” rule was an attempt to catch up with the marketplace. While use of traditional cigarettes has been in steep decline, e-cigarette use among high school students rose from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015, the FDA said.

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