What looks like a tobacco product, delivers the same addictive drug nicotine but lacks the toxins and carcinogens produced by a burning product? Electronic cigarettes have exploded in popularity in recent years with the number of Florida high school students trying the device doubling from 2011 to 2013.
That figure, from a survey for the national Centers for Disease Control, points to a trend whereby teenagers feel this healthier alternative to real tobacco is acceptable. But these smokeless nicotine delivery systems -- think battery-powered metal cartridges that vaporize a nicotine-infused liquid -- are still addictive.
While the health consequences from e-cigarettes remain in doubt, teenagers should not be experimenting with these addictive devices. We applaud the Manatee County school district for banning e-cigarettes on school grounds and at school-sponsored activities. And also State College of Florida and the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee for their prohibitions (with USF's pending in January).
Nicotine, a stimulant, was once broadly used as an insecticide. That's a revealing fact that should be another deterrent to its use. Here's another: The American Heart Association states that nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to break.
Like the real thing, just say no to e-cigs.
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