E-Cigarettes More Popular as Group Tries to Educate Teens

By Jonathan Cooper | jcooper@kq2.com

Published 03/19 2014 01:51PM

Updated 03/19 2014 11:13PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) They're the trendy new alternative to cigarettes.

"This is not mom and dad's cigarette," said Amy Lukowski with the National Jewish Health Organization. "This is something new, this is a novelty."

She's talking about electronic cigarettes. They operate using liquids and water vapor and have exploded in popularity. The National Jewish Health Organization is a group that strongly opposes their marketing to teens.

"There is no question in my mind that these products are aimed at younger users," said Dr. David Tinkleman.

The group is speaking out on National Kick Butts Day, a day to educate youth on the dangers of smoking.

"It doesn't take long from using these products to be addicted to them," Tinkleman said.

The CDC says between 2011 and 2012, middle and high school students who tried e-cigarettes more than doubled, to nearly two million.

Locally, companies like The Pursuit of Happiness in St. Joseph have noticed this growing trend.

"Every day somebody is coming in here and asking for e-cigs or vapor liquid," said General Manager Chris Bennett.

Bennett said e-cigarettes are popular for those who are trying to ween themselves off of regular cigarettes. He admits they still probably aren't healthy for you, but says they only sell to those 18 and older.

"They're just like regular cigarettes," Bennett said.

He said they are also appealing because they come in different flavors.

"Not everyone wants to smoke a menthol or a full flavored, so this way you could get wine flavored, cappuccino, apple," Bennett said.

More research still needs to be done to find out all of the dangers of e-cigarettes, but for now organizations like the National Jewish Health Organization says they will continue to educate teens on smoking.

"The popularity is really outpacing our knowledge," said Lukowski.

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