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Study: Most teen e-cigarette users buy from drug stores

By Tauren Dyson
Study: Most teen e-cigarette users buy from drug stores
People between ages 12 and 17 are 5.2 times more likely to buy e-cigarettes from drug stores than any other place. Photo by KrystianGraba/Pixabay

March 19 (UPI) -- Keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of young people continues to be an uphill battle, a new study says.

People between ages 12 and 17 are 5.2 times more likely to buy e-cigarettes from drug stores than any other place, according to a study presented Monday at the American Academy of Health Behavior 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting.

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Additionally, youth were 4.4 times more likely to buy e-cigarettes from a vape store and 3.3 times more likely to get them from a mall kiosk.

"We need to inform parents and community members about where their children are getting e-cigarettes from so that they can act as gatekeepers to prevent their children from obtaining these products," Ashley Merianos, a researcher at University of Cincinnati and study author, said in a news release. "We need tobacco-use prevention programs to add information on e-cigarettes."

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Merianos analyzed data on nearly 1,600 adolescents who participated in the 2016 National Youth Tobacco Survey who reported using e-cigarettes within 30 days of taking the survey. She found that over 13 percent of youth between 12 and 17 reported daily e-cigarette use.

This report comes months after the Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping regulations that restricted e-cigarette sales to age-restricted sections in stores. The move was aimed at curbing e-cigarette use among youth.

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Some groups think the FDA needs to do more. Last week, the American Heart Association asked the agency to do more to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of kids.

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In addition to regulations, Merianos wants to make parents more aware of the problem e-cigarettes pose to their children. This may be difficult, however, since many parents don't see a problem with their kids vaping.

Today, more than 20 percent of high schoolers use e-cigarettes, along with nearly 5 percent of middle school children. Many young people are drawn to the product for the sweet vape flavors manufacturers make available.

In response to FDA pressure, e-cigarette giant Juul stopped selling flavor pods in stores. Yet, they can still be purchased online, where Merianos says young users are 2.5 times more likely to purchase vaping products.

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That's why she's calling on the FDA to restrict all e-cigarette sales online and state governments to raise the legal age to buy the vaping products to 21.

However, Merianos knows that fight won't be easy.

"The internet is very hard to regulate, especially for e-cigarette sales," Merianos said.

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