Teenagers Buying E-Cigarettes Online, Study Says


Researchers have found that U.S. minors can easily buy e-cigarettes through online shops.

The use of e-cigarettes in teens is rising. A new study, funded by the National Cancer Institute in North Carolina, reveals that minors, especially teenagers, can buy e-cigarettes online without any problem. The rate of success of minors purchasing e-cigarettes online is 93%. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers hired a group of 11 teenagers in North Carolina, where selling e-cigarettes to minors is prohibited. The teens were aged 14 to 17, and their task was to buy e-cigarettes from 98 online retailers. Surprisingly, 75 online retailers accepted orders from the minors. However, only five retailers rejected the teens for purchasing underage, while 18 orders were rejected due to logistical problems.

Currently, 41 states are planning to ban or have already banned the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. However, this new study shows that it is extremely easy for minors buy the products via online shops.

Rebecca S. Williams, researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-author of the study, is urging state lawmakers to act and tighten legislation since online sellers are not respecting the law.

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed putting e-cigarettes under the same category in federal law as tobacco. That means selling e-cigarettes to minors would be forbidden.

E-cigarettes first entered the U.S. market in 2007. The rate of use of e-cigarettes is increasing among teenagers, doubling from 2011 to 2012.

The University of Michigan conducted a national survey in 2014. The study revealed that just over 17% of teenagers in the 12th grade used an e-cigarette in the month prior to the study.

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About the author

Kristin covers health, science and internet news.