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CDC reveals "alarming" news about teen e-cigarette use

In 2014, 2.5 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes, according to a CDC report. CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook reports on the findings
In 2014, 2.5 million middle and high school s... 02:02

Teenage use of electronic cigarettes has tripled in the last year. It is a trend that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "alarming." E-cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco product among teens.

Naisha Liriano, 18, started smoking at 14 but then switched to e-cigarettes.

"It was like Sour Patch flavor," she said. "So I said okay, I wanted to try it, so I tried it and it had almost the same effect as a cigarette, but it just had flavor in it."

The CDC report found in 2014, 2.5 million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco product among teenagers, the CDC says. CBS News

High school students show the most dramatic change. From 2011 to 2014, e-cigarette use leaped from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent, while cigarette use declined from 16 to 9 percent.

"The news that cigarette smoking is at an all-time low is colored by the fact that we have seen the greatest explosion in the use of e-cigarettes that one could imagine," said Matthew Myers, executive director of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

Electronic cigarettes use a battery to convert liquid nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals into an inhalable vapor. There's no smoke or tar, but the CDC says nicotine is addictive and can affect the developing adolescent brain. The FDA is also concerned about what else is in the vapor, but does not currently regulate e-cigarettes.

"There have also been studies showing because of the lack of controls of what's in e-cigarettes, some of them give off formaldehyde," said Myers. "What we've also seen is that some substances that are benign in food like vanilla when heated and inhaled become highly dangerous to the lungs."

The FDA says it has the authority to regulate e-cigarettes because they are tobacco products. It hopes to have rules that will include age restrictions finalized by June.

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