As youth vaping rises, teens cite the allure of tricks

Fri May 1, 2015 2:31pm EDT
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By Jilian Mincer

NEW YORK (Reuters) - On a recent morning, Roger Tarazon and several friends gathered a few blocks from their Queens, New York high school. Some smoked traditional cigarettes, but Tarazon and a few others puffed on electronic vaping devices.      

“Sometimes I use it to relax,” the 18-year-old senior said of the device. He also uses it to perform tricks with the vapor, blowing smoke rings or creating funnels of smoke that look like miniature tornadoes.

“I don’t do it to show off,” he said. “I just do them because I’m bored.”

Tarazon’s embrace of such tricks reflects a growing trend among U.S. teenagers, whose use of e-cigarettes tripled in the last year alone. New research provided to Reuters has found that performing tricks is one of the top two reasons young users say they consider the devices cool.

Public health officials have warned for several years of the attraction of flavored nicotine liquid to teens and tweens, and have urged regulators to ban them. Consumers have a wide range of flavor choices, including menthol, single-malt scotch, cappuccino and pomegranate.

But the role of tricks in enticing young people to use e-cigarettes has not previously been explored. Now researchers are asking whether they could help hook a new generation who otherwise would not have used nicotine.

"We expected the flavors were attractive," said Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a psychiatry professor at the Yale School of Medicine. “But smoke tricks were a surprise to us.”  

    Krishnan-Sarin and her team, with funding from the National Institutes of Health, asked 5,400 Connecticut teens to identify what they found "cool about e-cigarettes?"   Continued...

A man uses an E-cigarette, an electronic substitute in the form of a rod, slightly longer than a normal cigarette, in this illustration picture taken in Paris, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann