E-Cigarettes, Now Booming in Popularity with Erie High Schoolers - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

E-Cigarettes, Now Booming in Popularity with Erie High Schoolers

Posted: Updated:
E-cigs growing in popularity with minors E-cigs growing in popularity with minors
Electronic cigarettes were originally created as a smoking cessation device. But now the still-unregulated product has become hugely popular with high school students, right here in Erie.

The product doesn't fall under the Tobacco Act, and without specific laws to address e-cigs in Pennsylvania, private vendors aren't required to ID minors.

"The e-cigs, they’re very popular among the students," said Karl, a Cathedral Prep senior who declined to share his last name.

"Everyone's trying to get them. It’s a big hype in high school and a lot of grade school students are doing it too," said Santino Forti, a Mercyhurst Prep senior. When asked to estimate a percentage of students who use e-cigs, "In our school? I’d say 50 percent, at least," he said.  

The trend is catching on fast among high school students and younger. According to the most recent CDC report, teen use doubled from 2011 to 2012, making for a total of more than 2 million kids vaping e-cigs.

The battery operated device uses a heated coil to vaporize liquid with added nicotine, which is often infused with fruit or candy flavors.

Students say there is a certain appeal.

"A lot of kids are doing it now, I think it's just to be cool," said Vailey Witherspoon, another Mercyhurst Prep senior.

"The aesthetic allure is you know, people love the idea of smoke. Breathing out smoke, it looks cool. The electronic cigarette is a way for kids to blow smoke out of their mouths without feel like they’re crippling their lungs and killing themselves," said Sean Taylor, a Cathedral Prep senior.

Many of the students WICU/WSEE spoke with shared the "healthier than cigarettes" belief. Doctors do agree, but say there's still cause for concern with the electronic tobacco alternative.

"It’s probably safer than a regular cigarette, because a cigarette has thousands of chemicals, 70 of which we know cause cancer. We’ve only found a few so far in e-cigs that cause cancer, but we haven’t been able to adequately study them," said Dr. Stephen Kovacs, a Saint Vincent Pulmonologist.

Studies have shown that some e-cigarettes, particularly with the larger devices, the heating mechanism inside can vaporize liquids at high enough temperatures to release formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

But a more immediate and widespread concern - the vaping trend among students is causing kids not previously addicted to nicotine, to now be hooked on e-cigs.

"It concerns me as a parent and as a physician. The issue really with this is the addiction," Dr. Kovacs said. "Addiction is never a good thing."

The unregulated industry also means there's no quality control or product standard required for the chemicals that are vaporized, then inhaled. It's another cause for concern, particularly because the kids using them are still developing. 

"At the present time, the FDA does not have the authority to regulate e-cigarettes, and some have characterized it frankly, as the wild, wild, west," said Dr. Margaret Hamburg in a press conference, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. "At this point, it's very much buyer beware," she said.

"Anything in your lungs other than air is usually bad. We don’t know what are in these liquids and we don’t know what problems they're going to hold," Dr. Kovacs said.

Clinical studies and FDA regulations are both in the works for e-cigarettes. Legislation in Pennsylvania that would ban sales to minors is pending as well. But meanwhile, even kids younger than 18 can buy e-cigs from certain smoke shops and specialty vendors in Erie

"I would definitely say there’s peer pressure," Karl said. "Whenever there’s a new item, everyone wants to get one and everyone wants to fit in, and even if it’s an unhealthy trend," he said.

"Kids do it in class, like when the teacher isn't looking," Fonti said. "Fairview School District has way more than we do, but I would say just about any school has them, and there's going to be a high number of students using them," he said.

School administrations have started to take notice.

"It’s a very furtive kind of device. There’s no smoke, there’s no odor. There was suspicion that it might be infiltrating students. We want to make sure that our policies clearly let them know what our expectations are," said Paul Cancilla, assistant principal at Mercyhurst Prep.

The school specified rules banning e-cigs on school grounds, just last month.

“With this gap in regulation, the wheels of commerce are spinning a whole lot more quickly than the wheels of legislation," Cancilla said.  "There's a generation of kids falling to nicotine addiction that were not already heading in that direction. It must be addressed, it shouldn’t be glamorized, and it shouldn’t be legal for minors to have these devices," he said.

Students at Mercyhurst Prep view the crackdown as a good thing.

"The faculty basically needs to show us students that you need to do things more correctly and more healthy for yourself," Forti said.

It could be a year before FDA regulations are in place for e-cigarettes.

Submit your event now
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • "Mummies" Take Stage at 8 Great Tuesdays

    "Mummies" Take Stage at 8 Great Tuesdays

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:46:38 GMT
    The skies stayed clear for another 8 Great Tuesdays concert, but what wasn't clear, was who exactly was on the stage.More >>
    The skies stayed clear for another 8 Great Tuesdays concert, but what wasn't clear, was who exactly was on the stage.More >>
  • Drowning Victim Never Reported Missing By Companions

    Drowning Victim Never Reported Missing By Companions

    Monday, July 28 2014 7:16 PM EDT2014-07-28 23:16:32 GMT
    Authorities know more now about the tragic drowning of a teen in Presque Isle Bay. It apparently happened last Thursday, when the boy was in the water with friends, but he was never reported missing. As 12News/SEENews first reported on the weekend, the victim surfaced Saturday morning near the mouth of Cascade Creek. The body of the teen was discovered by fishermen. The coroner identified the victim as 17-year-old Prem Thapa, a Bhutanese immigrant and a student at East High School. We've lear...More >>
    Authorities know more now about the tragic drowning of a teen in Presque Isle Bay. It apparently happened last Thursday, when the boy was in the water with friends, but he was never reported missing. As 12News/SEENews first reported on the weekend, the victim surfaced Saturday morning near the mouth of Cascade Creek. The body of the teen was discovered by fishermen. The coroner identified the victim as 17-year-old Prem Thapa, a Bhutanese immigrant and a student at East High School. We've lear...More >>
  • Daylight Reveals Scene of Tragic Canoeing Accident

    Daylight Reveals Scene of Tragic Canoeing Accident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:27 AM EDT2014-07-29 15:27:44 GMT
    The waters of Lake Erie have claimed two lives in less than a week. The latest incident, a canoeing trip that turned tragic in western Erie County.More >>
    The waters of Lake Erie have claimed two lives in less than a week. The latest incident, a canoeing trip that turned tragic in western Erie County.
    More >>
  • Fish and Boat Commission Investigates Deadly Canoe Accident

    Fish and Boat Commission Investigates Deadly Canoe Accident

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:45 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:45:51 GMT
    The PA Fish and Boat Commission is investigating the circumstances of a deadly canoe accident on Elk Creek Monday night. Waterways Conservation Officer Brook Tolbert says the waters of Elk Creek were high because of heavy rains on Sunday. Tolbert said 53-year old Michael Kohler, and 33-year-old Matthew Kaliszewski were riding that high water when they got into difficulty. Tolbert said they did many things right, including wearing their life jackets, but their trip still ended tragically. The ...More >>
    The PA Fish and Boat Commission is investigating the circumstances of a deadly canoe accident on Elk Creek Monday night. Waterways Conservation Officer Brook Tolbert says the waters of Elk Creek were high because of heavy rains on Sunday. Tolbert said 53-year old Michael Kohler, and 33-year-old Matthew Kaliszewski were riding that high water when they got into difficulty. Tolbert said they did many things right, including wearing their life jackets, but their trip still ended tragically. The ...More >>
  • Construction Underway on Many New Businesses in Millcreek

    Construction Underway on Many New Businesses in Millcreek

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:26 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:26:32 GMT
    It's been a busy summer for construction projects in Millcreek Township. Work is currently underway on many new commercial and retail establishments.More >>
    It's been a busy summer for construction projects in Millcreek Township. Work is currently underway on many new commercial and retail establishments.More >>
  • Man Ejected from Truck in Harborcreek Twp. Accident

    Man Ejected from Truck in Harborcreek Twp. Accident

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:32 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:32:32 GMT
    A man was ejected from his truck in a one-vehicle accident, late this afternoon.More >>
    A man was ejected from his truck in a one-vehicle accident, late this afternoon.More >>
  • Man Admits Robbing Three Financial Institutions in Two Weeks

    Man Admits Robbing Three Financial Institutions in Two Weeks

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:50 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:50:46 GMT
    Erie Police arrested a man Monday in connection with a bank robbery earlier that afternoon. But it's what the suspect told them that may close a pair of other cases as well.More >>
    Erie Police arrested a man Monday in connection with a bank robbery earlier that afternoon. But it's what the suspect told them that may close a pair of other cases as well.
    More >>
  • Man Dead after Canoe Capsizes in Elk Creek

    Man Dead after Canoe Capsizes in Elk Creek

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 4:59 AM EDT2014-07-29 08:59:47 GMT
    A water rescue effort ends with rescue crews finding the body of a 33-year-old man in Elk Creek around 1am on Tuesday morning.More >>
    A water rescue effort ends with rescue crews finding the body of a 33-year-old man in Elk Creek around 1am on Tuesday morning.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
3514 State St. Erie, PA 16508
Newsroom: (814)454-8812
Toll Free: 1(800)454-8812
Business offices: (814)454-5201
WICU FCC Filing
WSEE FCC Filing
Share:
Share Stories
Submit your stories to our site!
Share Photos
Share your photos in our community galleries
Mobile:
Mobile Site
Be sure to stay constantly updated with the power of WICU12 and WSEE at your fingertips
Free Android App
Free iPhone App
Free iPad App
Storm Tracker App
Droid
iPhone
iPad
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WICU. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
                   WICU/WSEE - 3514 State Street Erie, PA 16508 - (814) 454-5201 - info@wicu12.com