Electronic cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among middle schoolers and high schoolers according to a survey from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and a large number of vapers aren’t using them for the nicotine.
According to the report, 37 percent of high school students surveyed by the CDC reported have used an e-cigarette at least once, and 16 percent reported vaping at least once in the last 30 days. Only 10 percent of high schoolers surveyed said they had ever smoked a cigarette.
When asked why they used electronic cigarettes , 11 percent of respondents said they tried vaping because they were drawn to sweet and fruity flavors only available in e-cigarettes. Industry critics claim that by offering flavors like candy, fruit and chocolate, e-cigarettes are marketing their products to children and teens.
Another 12 percent reported they vaping because a friend or family member smoked e-cigarettes.
30 percent of youth vapers also say they use e-cigarettes for things other than nicotine. According to The Verge , other studies point to marijuana as being a likely alternative use for vape pens.
While e-cigarette advocates argue that vaping is much healthier than smoking traditional tobacco, the CDC warns that the long-term effects of e-cig smoking are still currently unknown. Moreover, they warn that youth exposure to nicotine could harm brain development and promote nicotine addiction.
The CDC’s findings were based on the 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey, a voluntarily survey completed by more than 17,000 young people from around the country.
Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.