Nico-teen: Nicotine, Cigarettes, Electronic Nicotine Delivery System and Adolescents

Jamie Biggerstaff


Tobacco and nicotine products are all around us, all the time. In the United States, 2 out of 25, or approximately 8%, of high school age teenagers reported smoking cigarettes in the last 30 days. Eight years ago, in 2011, that amount was 15.8%, meaning that cigarette smoking could be going out of fashion. Cigarettes are slim cylinders of cut, dried leave of the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum, enclosed in a thin paper, either with or without a fiber filter. While the amount of teenage cigarette smokers is going down, the number of teens who use electronic nicotine delivery systems is going up. Electronic nicotine delivery systems, abbreviated as ENDS, also called vapes or e-cigs, are electronic devices that produce an aerosol containing nicotine that is then inhaled by the user. Aerosols are a mist that contains fine particles of solids or liquids suspended in a gas. As of 20187, 1 in 5, or 20%, of high school age teenagers reported using ENDS in the last 30 days. Since 2011, the percentage of teenagers using ENDS has risen by 19.3%. What is driving this change in teenage smoking culture? The answer lies in how each method of consumption is perceived by adolescents. It has been found that the majority of high school age teenagers surveyed believe that using an ENDS are less addictive, safer, more prevalent and more socially acceptable than cigarette smoking. Is this really the case?

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