KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The appeal of e-cigarettes should be obvious. They come in flavors like bubble gum and cookies and cream which may tantalize the tastebuds of a younger generation.
Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have evidence kids and teens are increasingly using them.
"What we've seen is rapid increase in e-cigarette use in both middle schoolers and high schoolers - in fact it doubled in just a year," CDC Doctor Tom Frieden said.
The products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and minors can legally buy electronic cigarettes in more than half of all states. They use water vapor instead of tobacco smoke to deliver a hit of nicotine.
And it's that highly addictive nicotine that has experts worried.
"Kids' brains are highly susceptible to nicotine. They're easily addicted, and that addiction can be lifelong," Frieden said.
The suggestion is that nicotine addiction could be a gateway to using tobacco.
The parent company of Blu E-cigarettes, Lorillard, released a statement saying in part:
"We agree the rise in youth usage pointed out by the CDC is unacceptable...And that is why we look forward to a regulatory framework for e-cigarettes that restricts youth access...While at the same time doesn't stifle what may be the most significant harm reduction opportunity that has ever been made available to smokers."
Some former tobacco smokers insist what they call "vaping" helped them quit smoking.
Scientific studies exploring e-cigarettes' effectiveness as quit aids are ongoing.
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