Health officials concerned about e-cigarette use by teens

E-cigarettes
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TACOMA, Wash. -- The growing popularity of e-cigarettes among teens has local health officials extremely concerned. A recent survey by the state found 1 in 5 high school sophomores in Pierce County are vaping. That's twice the number who smoke regular cigarettes.

"Yeah, it's popular in high school. I probably see it in all grades," said Sophia Blakesoee, a Lincoln High School student.

"There's always kids after school smoking. I guess it makes the school look king of bad because it's right in front of school. I feel like maybe the police should do something about it," said Henry Douk, a Lincoln High School student.

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While e-cigarettes are promoted as a way to quit smoking or a healthier form of smoking, they do contain nicotine, which is very addictive. But local health officials are worried about more than nicotine. The "e-juice" that goes into these devices isn't regulated and a lot of it comes from China.

More than 300 million e-cigarettes are expected to be shipped to the U.S. and Europe from China this year. A recent report by the American Heart Association found metals in the products, including copper, tin, silver, and nickel.

"What our biggest concern is that it's a product that young people are feeling is safe and okay to use, not realizing that there is the nicotine, there are these chemicals or other things that we're not even sure what's in them," said Miae Aramori with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

The FDA is still working on regulations and possible warning labels, but those won't be in place until 2016 at the earliest. Here in Washington there are a couple of bills that would raise the vaping age from 18 to 21, but it's uncertain whether there will be any action on those this year either.