A report released by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that more middle- and high-school students are embracing the emerging alternatives to smoking tobacco-based cigarettes.
According to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Thursday, hookahs and electronic, or e-cigarettes, are increasingly gaining popularity among youth.
Findings also show, however, no significant decline in students using cigarette smoking or overall tobacco.
“This report raises a red flag about newer tobacco products,” CDC director Tohm Frieden said in a statement. “Cigars and hookah tobacco are smoked tobacco — addictive and deadly. We need effective action to protect our kids from addition to nicotine.”
The report cites data from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey that showed recent e-cigarette use rose among middle school students from 0.6 percent in 2011 to 1.1 percent in 2012. Among high school students over that same time, the increase was from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, according to the report.
Hookah use increased from 4.1 percent to 5.4 percent among high school students from between 2011 and 2012.
The report attributes the rise in hookah and electronic cigarette usage to a likely increase in marketing, availability and visibility of these tobacco products, according to the report.
The report also suggests a perception that the use of these alternative tobacco products are safer than cigarettes.
“A large portion of kids who use tobacco are smoking products other than cigarettes, including cigars and hookahs, which are similarly dangerous,” said CDC Office on Smoking Health director Tim McAfee. “We need to apply the same strategies that work to prevent and reduce cigarette use among our youth to these new and emerging products.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently regulate e-cigarettes, hookahs, cigars or other new types of tobacco products, but FDA officials intend to issue a proposed rule that would deem products using tobacco subject to regulation, CDC officials say.