The surge in e- cigarette sales pose a "major risk" to children and teenagers, according to a recent report from the Surgeon General. The report recommended that the US government increases both regulation and taxation of e-cigarettes and related paraphernalia.

Several Health groups in the UK, most notably the Royal College of Physicians, have argued that e-cigarettes should be heavily promoted as a means of assisting adults quitting smoking. Recent figures show that smoking is at a historical low in both the UK and the US.

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Associated risks

However, the Surgeon General's report presents the use of e-cigarettes as dangerous, particularly to young people. The report outlined several risks associated with the use of e-cigarettes by young people:

  • Mood disorders
  • Attention deficit
  • Cognition issues
  • Potential addiction to nicotine that could lead to the use of cigarettes

Among high school children, e-cigarettes have become the most popular nicotine product.

Out of the 10th-graders surveyed, 10.4% stated that they had used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days in comparison to the 2.2% that stated they had used cigarettes, according to the report. Unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes can be advertised on TV and bought in a cocktail of flavours that may be appealing to children.

e-Cigarettes may still lead children to nicotine addiction

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said: "We have to ensure that e-cigarettes are not an avenue by which children become addicted to nicotine," before continuing to state that the report couldn't find conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit. His report concluded that there is a strong correlation between e-cigarette use and use of other nicotine products.

In May, the US government introduced preliminary regulations for the sales of e-cigarettes - which included banning sales to anyone under the age of 18-but that isn't enough for Murthy, who is demanding more stringent regulations on the burgeoning e-cigarette industry.

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Murthy's report recommended higher taxes, raising the minimum purchase age to 21, introducing e-cigarette smoke-free laws and marketing restrictions.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said: "This is just another politically motivated attack on an industry that is helping people quit smoking".