- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - New data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services suggests that the use of electronic cigarettes in the state is increasing as tobacco use is falling.

An Alaska Division of Epidemiology bulletin released Thursday found that e-cigarette use rose from 1 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2013, the latest data available, the Alaska Dispatch News reports (https://bit.ly/1fusBcm). Tobacco smokers have decreased from 24 percent in 1996 to 21.9 percent in 2013.

DHSS officials said that though the percent of e-cigarette users is still small, the fast uptick in popularity over such a short period is significant.

“We’re going from hardly anyone reporting use to a small but still larger percent of the population reporting use,” said Andrea Fenaughty, deputy section chief for chronic disease prevention and health promotion under DHSS.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that convert flavored liquids that often contain nicotine into inhaled aerosol.

Fenaughty said the increase in marketing of the products could be adding to the increase in use. Flavors range from tobacco to snickerdoodle, with some of the sweeter offerings geared toward young people.

The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are unclear, but many have turned to them to help quit cigarettes or other tobacco products, which Fenaughty said has not been tested or recommended by the Food and Drug Administration.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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