E-cigarettes are the most commonly used nicotine product among today’s youth. Up to 20% of adolescents who currently use e-cigarettes have never smoked a traditional cigarette.
A major concern is that e-cigarettes’ flavors, design, and marketing particularly appeal to youth, and that by introducing young people to nicotine and glamorizing a smoking-like behavior, e-cigarettes could open the door to cigarette use in a population that is particularly vulnerable to addiction and that has seen historic declines in cigarette smoking.
Many young people report experimenting with e-cigarettes out of curiosity, because the flavors appeal to them, or because of peer influences. The majority of youth who reported e-cigarette use in one study had friends who used these products. Almost half of adolescents who used e-cigarettes said that they did not believe these products were associated with health risks. Young people also perceived e-cigarettes as easy to obtain, "cool," and a better alternative to cigarettes because they were thought to be healthier and could be used anywhere. Among youth who stopped using e-cigarettes, the major underlying reasons were health concerns, loss of interest, high cost, bad taste, and view of e-cigarettes as less satisfying than cigarettes.
Young children may also face adverse health effects from e-cigarette exposure. They may accidentally ingest the concentrated nicotine (which often contains flavors) in e-cigarette liquid, resulting in vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation.