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Vaping: the astonishing surge in e-cigarette use

A woman vapes on an electronic cigarette.

Use of e-cigarettes, particularly among teens, is rising at the fastest-recorded rate for any substance.

In recent years, vaping has become a popular alternative to smoking cigarettes. It’s more discreet and socially acceptable than tobacco. Some vape devices deliver more nicotine than cigarettes, and they’re being heavily marketed to youth as well as smokers trying to quit. One such product, Juul, has rapidly taken over three-quarters of the US e-cigarette market.

Juul’s intended mission is to help adult smokers quit tobacco. But it’s highly addictive and its rise in popularity has coincided with a new problem: Young people who have never picked up a cigarette are now vaping in record numbers.

Booming sales have sparked a new public health crisis; studies show nicotine affects young people’s developing brains, and frequent e-cigarette use may be dangerous for lungs and hearts.

The Food and Drug Administration has said it is looking into cracking down on e-cigarette use among teens, but it’s been slow to act, and the number of young people who vaped recently doubled over the last year.

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