Update: E-Cigarette Use Rising in Teens


As a bill to ban teens from using electronic-cigarettes sits on Governor Dave Heineman's desk, experts say more minors than ever here in Nebraska are using the device.

Although tobacco use in teens is actually decreasing, according to Tobacco Free Nebraska, their use of e-cigarettes doubled nationwide from 2011 to 2012.

There's mixed reaction to the popularity of these vapor devices.

Kasey Cabbage, of Grand Island, said she tried multiple ways to quit smoking before finding e-cigarettes.

"It's nice to not smell like smoke, to not have smoke in the air around other people," she said.

Stacy Alexander celebrated his one year anniversary of selling vapor devices in central Nebraska Tuesday. He said he started E-Titan after using the device to quit smoking himself.

"Honestly I was helpless," said Alexander of his attempts to quit.

He said when more people are dying from tobacco-related illnesses than are using the product, he's happy to offer on alternative.

"There are four ingredients in an e-cigarette as compared to 4,000 ingredients in a traditional cigarette," said Alexander. "I would opt for the safer option at this point knowing that the alternative is absolutely detrimental to my health."

But, Tobacco Free Hall County Prevention Coordinator Sandy Yager said vapor should not be considered safe.

"It hasn't been proven through the FDA and they haven't been regulated yet as a smoking cessation device," said Yager.

Alexander agrees more studies should be done.

But, Yager said the studies coming out now are finding formaldehyde and ammonia in e-cigarettes.

She said the nicotine can be even more dangerous.

"Right now it's causing a lot of overdosing with youth and adults because it's easier to consume more nicotine with an electronic cigarette," said Yager.

However, both Yager and Alexander support LB 861.

The bill banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors has won final approval from lawmakers.

Senators voted 48-0 on Thursday to send the proposal to Gov. Dave Heineman. The bill would outlaw the sale of so-called e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18 years old. Additionally, minors caught using the product could face a misdemeanor charge.

Alexander already bans those under 18 from his downtown Grand Island store.

Although some say these fruity vapor flavors entice teens, Alexander said he doesn't want to get people hooked, he wants to help them quit.

You can get e-cigs without nicotine, but Yager still says talking to your doctor or calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW is the best and safest way to quit tobacco.