Posted By: Camila Orti
A CDC report found that electronic cigarette use among teenagers has doubled in the last year. Now, it's becoming a problem for Lincoln Public Schools.
E-cigarettes have only been around in the United States for about six years, but they seem to be growing in popularity. They're designed for adults as a substitute for smoking tobacco, and seem to be catching on with teens.
"It's estimated that the use of those has doubled within the last year and so that trend is taking place with our young people as well," LPS Director of Student Services Russ Uhing said.
Uhing says many Lincoln middle and high schools are seeing more and more students with battery powered e–cigarettes. They use heat and a liquid solution to create vapor instead of smoke. Co-owner of GNS Vapor, Aaron Guenter, says his shop exclusively sells e-cigarettes, and that they're not as harmful as real cigarettes.
"The idea is that there wouldn't be any carcinogens, nothing's being burnt, you're vaporizing it into a liquid, which your lungs can handle," Guenter said.
While many e–cigarettes do contain nicotine, the ones without are still not allowed on school grounds.
"What we're trying to do is be proactive and communicate to our families, let them know that this is something that's increasing in use and to have parents visit with their students about it and make sure it doesn't become a situation at school," Uhing said.
Nebraska lawmakers are meeting Friday to discuss whether to take up legislation that bans e–cigarettes for minors.
While some shops may take a hit, others like GNS Vapor say it won't affect their bottom line because they already control who buys.
"We've always turned away, if you're not 18, we don't want you buying the accessories, we don't want you buying batteries, even if there is no nicotine we don't want to sell it," Guenter said.
Guenter says his biggest demographic isn't 18-year-olds, it's middle-aged people trying to quit smoking.
LPS rules say students seen using any kind of cigarette, including e–cigarettes, in school or on school grounds will be suspended.