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>>

  • Storms Hit Crawford County

    Storms Hit Crawford County

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:13 AM EDT2014-07-28 04:13:03 GMT
    Storms swept through northwestern Pennsylvania Sunday evening packing high winds and a lot of lightning strikes. One cell seemed to stall along the Crawford -Mercer County line. We found trees and power lines down along Route 18 in West Fallowfield Township. There was also storm damage left behind in the McMaster Road area, near the communities of Atlantic and Adamsville. If those names sound familiar, that's because it is the same general area where the 1985 tornados hit. We also found high ...More >>
    Storms swept through northwestern Pennsylvania Sunday evening packing high winds and a lot of lightning strikes. One cell seemed to stall along the Crawford -Mercer County line. We found trees and power lines down along Route 18 in West Fallowfield Township. There was also storm damage left behind in the McMaster Road area, near the communities of Atlantic and Adamsville. If those names sound familiar, that's because it is the same general area where the 1985 tornados hit. We also found high ...More >>
  • Police Ask For Help to Identify Body Found in Creek

    Police Ask For Help to Identify Body Found in Creek

    Sunday, July 27 2014 12:22 AM EDT2014-07-27 04:22:32 GMT
    Erie police have released a more detailed description of the body of a young man discovered Saturday morning in Cascade Creek. It was about 10:30 a.m. when two fishermen spotted the body floating in the water where cascade creek empties into Presque Isle Bay. The Erie Fire Department recovered the body. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook says the young man was wearing only shorts and had no identification. He hopes that an autopsy scheduled Sunday may provide more information on what led to the d...More >>
    Erie police have released a more detailed description of the body of a young man discovered Saturday morning in Cascade Creek. It was about 10:30 a.m. when two fishermen spotted the body floating in the water where cascade creek empties into Presque Isle Bay. The Erie Fire Department recovered the body. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook says the young man was wearing only shorts and had no identification. He hopes that an autopsy scheduled Sunday may provide more information on what led to the d...More >>
  • Canadian Teen Becomes Youngest Person to Swim Across Central Lake Erie

    Canadian Teen Becomes Youngest Person to Swim Across Central Lake Erie

    Saturday, July 26 2014 9:32 AM EDT2014-07-26 13:32:35 GMT
    A Canadian teenager has become the youngest person to swim from Presque Isle to Long Point, Ontario, Canada.More >>
    A Canadian teenager has become the youngest person to swim from Presque Isle to Long Point, Ontario, Canada.More >>
  • Coroner Identifies Body Found in Bay

    Coroner Identifies Body Found in Bay

    Sunday, July 27 2014 7:28 PM EDT2014-07-27 23:28:06 GMT
    From FacebookFrom Facebook
    Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook has released the identity of the teen found floating in Presque Isle Bay on Saturday morning, and has ruled the death a case of accidental drowning. The victim is identified as 17-year-old Prem Thapa. Coroner Cook says the victim is a Bhutanese immigrant to the Erie area. His mother made positive identification of the body. Thapa had been a student at East High. Two fishermen spotted the teen's body floating in the bay about 10:30 a.m. Saturday. It was discovere...More >>
    Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook has released the identity of the teen found floating in Presque Isle Bay on Saturday morning, and has ruled the death a case of accidental drowning. The victim is identified as 17-year-old Prem Thapa. Coroner Cook says the victim is a Bhutanese immigrant to the Erie area. His mother made positive identification of the body. Thapa had been a student at East High. Two fishermen spotted the teen's body floating in the bay about 10:30 a.m. Saturday. It was discovere...More >>
  • Crews Battle Fire in Conneaut Lake House

    Crews Battle Fire in Conneaut Lake House

    Sunday, July 27 2014 11:59 PM EDT2014-07-28 03:59:13 GMT
    Firefighters in Conneaut Lake were called out for a house fire, just as storms were passing through the region. The fire broke out at 820 State Street. Smoke was showing when firefighters arrived. Authorities are trying to determine if a lightning strike may have touched off the fire. Sources say no one was home at the time of the fire. No one got hurt.More >>
    Firefighters in Conneaut Lake were called out for a house fire, just as storms were passing through the region. The fire broke out at 820 State Street. Smoke was showing when firefighters arrived. Authorities are trying to determine if a lightning strike may have touched off the fire. Sources say no one was home at the time of the fire. No one got hurt.More >>
  • TORNADO WATCH

    TORNADO WATCH

    Sunday, July 27 2014 3:09 PM EDT2014-07-27 19:09:35 GMT
    A Tornado Watch is in effect for the entire viewing area through 9pm tonight. The Tornado Watch means weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that are capable of producing tornadoes. THUNDERSTORMS TODAY AND THIS EVENING HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE SEVERE WITH LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS...AND LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL. A TORNADO IS POSSIBLE. Stay tuned to First Warning Weather and Watch Weekends Now for more information.More >>
    A Tornado Watch is in effect for the entire viewing area through 9pm tonight. The Tornado Watch means weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that are capable of producing tornadoes. THUNDERSTORMS TODAY AND THIS EVENING HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO BE SEVERE WITH LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS...AND LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL. A TORNADO IS POSSIBLE. Stay tuned to First Warning Weather and Watch Weekends Now for more information.More >>
  • Fire Displaces Harborcreek Family

    Fire Displaces Harborcreek Family

    Sunday, July 27 2014 7:15 PM EDT2014-07-27 23:15:39 GMT
    A house fire in Harborcreek early Sunday displaced a family of six adults and two children. The fire broke out about 5:00 a.m. at 5144 Ebersole Drive. Fire officials say a family member woke up to the sound of crackling flames and managed to get everyone else up and safely out of the house. Assistant Fairfield Hose Company Chief Jeff Hawryliw says firefighters from Fuller Hose, Harborcreek, Lawrence Park and Belle Valley assisted in the firefight. It took more than 40 minutes to get the flame...More >>
    A house fire in Harborcreek early Sunday displaced a family of six adults and two children. The fire broke out about 5:00 a.m. at 5144 Ebersole Drive. Fire officials say a family member woke up to the sound of crackling flames and managed to get everyone else up and safely out of the house. Assistant Fairfield Hose Company Chief Jeff Hawryliw says firefighters from Fuller Hose, Harborcreek, Lawrence Park and Belle Valley assisted in the firefight. It took more than 40 minutes to get the flame...More >>
  • Contact Us

    Contact Us

    Newsroom | Anchors | Weather | Sports | Video | Sales | Engineering | Business | Traffic | Promotions Lilly Broadcasting (WICU, WSEE, ERIE'S CW) 3514 State Street, Erie, PA 16508 (814) 454-5201More >>
    Here is the contact list for the staff at WICU, WSEE, and NW Pa's CW.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