Dept. of Health: Florida teens ditching cigarettes in favor of e-cigs

Posted at 9:52 PM, Sep 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-23 21:52:00-04

FLORIDA – There are mixed results when it comes to teen smoking in Florida, according to data released this week by the Department of Health.

The youth smoking rate in the state is at an all-time low, with only 6.9 percent of high school students now using traditional cigarettes on a regular basis.

However, there has been a staggering increase of nearly 300 percent in the use of e-cigarettes among teens in just the past two years; 15.8 percent of kids now using the nicotine dispensing devices, which allow the user to inhale vaporized nicotine in many different flavors.

Shannon Hughes is the Bureau Chief for Tobacco Free Florida. She says e-cigarettes threaten the relatively new social norm, where smoking is generally frowned upon in groups.

“The use of e-cigarettes, and this dramatic increase that we’re seeing among youth, threatens to normalize smoking again, she said. “We have worked for decades to de-normalize smoking.”

Hughes and Tobacco Free Florida are urging the federal government to come up with nationalized standards to regulate e-cigarettes.

In 2014, the legislature clarified state law, requiring someone must be 18 to purchase e-cigarettes as well as the nicotine cartridges used in them. However, their availability online has made enforcing the law difficult.