E cigarettes have been surging in popularity, and a new government study suggests this effect is trickling down to U.S. teens.

Play Video CBS This Morning Electronic cigarettes’ popularity and safety concerns on the rise

The popularity of electronic cigarettes is raising questions about how safe they actually are. Jeff Glor reports.

New findings from a national survey on youth tobacco use showed that the percentage of middle and high school students using electronic cigarettes doubled from 2011 to 2012.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which polls about 20,000 adolescents in grades six through 12 on their tobacco related beliefs and attitudes, use habits and exposure to pro and anti tobacco influences.

They found e cigarette use increased from 4.7 percent of surveyed high school students in 2011 to 10 percent by 2012, the last year data was collected.

E cigarette use increased from 1.4 percent of middle school students in 2011 to 2.7 percent last year.

That worries health officials, because 90 percent of all smokers start when they’re teenagers, according to hte CDC.

“The increased use of e cigarettes by teens is deeply troubling,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, adding nicotine is a highly addictive drug. “Many teens who start with e cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes.”

  • Tobacco companies bet on electronic cigarettes
  • Camel maker plans big e cigarette push
  • Marlboro maker Altria to jump into e cigarettes

The increases appear to follow a trend seen in adults. A Feb. CDC study found more than a doubling of e cigarette use among adults, finding 21 percent had used the devices in 2011, up from 10 percent in 2010.

E cigarettes are battery powered devices that provide users with a vapor filled with nicotine and other additives, like flavoring or components to produce the aerosol. Some products tested have contained potentially harmful substances, like irritants and animal carcinogens, the CDC authors pointed out.

Without regulation by the Food and Drug Administration the FDA only regulates e cigs that claim therapeutic benefits, like smoking cessation e cigarettes can be sold to minors in states that don’t restrict the sales, the authors added.

Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine are not subject to the same federal age restrictions as other nicotine containing products like cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll your own tobacco and smokeless tobacco, according to the FDA.

One study finding that concerned the CDC was that one in five middle schoolers used e cigarettes without ever using a tobacco product.

“These dramatic increases suggest that developing strategies to prevent marketing, sales, and use of e cigarettes among youth is critical,” Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, added in a statement.

The new e cigarette findings don’t suggest kids are skipping tobacco entirely. More than 76 percent of middle and high school students who used e cigarettes within the past 30 days also smoked an actual cigarette during that time.

Smoking tobacco can increase risk for some cancers, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems. However, health effects from e cigarettes, and whether or not they raise risk for people to start using tobacco, have been unclear.

Some European countries have recently taken actions against e cigarettes due to uncertainty over health effects. France decided in May to extend its public smoking ban to include e cigarettes.

“This is no ordinary product because it encourages mimicking and could promote taking up smoking,” France’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine, said at the time.

Weeks later, the Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the U.K. an agency similar to the FDA said it would regulate e cigarettes like medicines, a move to ensure the products are safe and more effective in reducing the harms of smoking.

The FDA has announced it intends to expand its jurisdiction over tobacco products to include e cigarettes.

The study “is cause for great concern as we don’t yet understand the long term effects of these novel tobacco products,” Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said in a statement. “These findings reinforce why the FDA intends to expand its authority over all tobacco products and establish a comprehensive and appropriate regulatory framework to reduce disease and death from tobacco use.”

The CDC’s new study was published Sept. 5 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Tune into the CBS Evening News tonight at 6 30 p.m. ET to find out more on the report.

Big pharma, not tobacco companies, wages war on electronic cigarettes

Korean brand cigarettes. mild seven menthol light nicotine content. cigarettes shop ‘cheap cigarettes 24×7′

GlaxoSmithKline sells Nicorette gum and Johnson & Johnson manufactures nicotine patches. The New York Times reported these companies helped lead strong opposition to e cigarettes.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration is about to announce new proposed rules on e cigarettes. Big Pharma s shadow hangs over the rule making.

No industry spends more on lobbying in the U.S. than the drug industry, and drugmakers’ agendas are often bigger government. Without the efforts of the drug lobby, for instance, Obamacare probably would have died in the summer of 2009. President George W. Bush s single biggest expansion of government was creating the Medicare prescription drug benefit at the behest of the drugmakers.

Fittingly, as Democrats advocated federal regulation of tobacco last decade, the drug industry applauded. Congressional Democrats and President Obama pretended their fight to regulate tobacco was a battle against the special interest lobbyists. This was dishonest pablum (for one thing, Philip Morris supported the regulation). But aside from the politicians dishonesty, the drugmakers position was fairly unobjectionable to smoking opponents If smoking is bad, and Glaxo s products help people stop smoking, what s wrong with Glaxo lobbying against cigarettes?

But now, Glaxo and colleagues are lobbying against other tools smokers could use to quit and the Obama administration is again walking hand in hand with Big Pharma.

To head the Food and Drug Administration s Center for Tobacco Products the entity quarterbacking regulation of e cigarettes Obama named former lobbyist Mitch Zeller, whose consulting clients have included drug companies like GlaxoSmithKline.

When Obama signed tobacco regulation legislation in 2009, Zeller was a special White House guest in the Rose Garden. In a 2009 journal article, Zeller disclosed that he provides consulting support to GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health through Pinney Associates on an exclusive basis on issues related to tobacco dependence treatment.

Now this pharma consultant has regulatory authority over competing products, including e cigarettes.

Federal regulators and consumer health groups argue that e cigs are untested. Some even claim that they are clearly dangerous. Basically, e cigs deliver vaporized nicotine. Nicotine is the addictive element in cigarettes, but there s no evidence that nicotine itself is harmful it’s the other ingredients in cigarettes that are established as dangerous.

The alarmist concerns raised by the drug companies are understandable, Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health told me, because they re rent seeking. Rent seeking is a term in economics for seeking to profit through public policy without creating economic value.

Ross told the Winston Salem Journal that Zeller has been in the business of promoting FDA approved traditional NRT nicotine replacement therapy products, while (not surprisingly) he has been in the forefront of opposing consideration of alternative cessation products such as snus and e cigarettes.

Snus is an oral tobacco product that is less healthy than avoiding tobacco, but more healthy than smoking. Snus has also had to run through the Pharma FDA gauntlet.

Obama s 2009 tobacco law created a Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, which is reviewing the safety of oral tobacco products. One voting member of TPSAC was Jack Henningfield, who happens to own a patent in a chewing gum delivery system for nicotine along with John M. Pinney, founder of the consulting firm that employed Zeller now the top regulator of tobacco products.

This is how regulation happens in Washington. It’s not a matter of disinterested public servants standing up to big business it’s one industry against another. And so the question on electronic cigarettes comes down to this Can the e cig makers beat the drugmakers?

Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner’s senior political columnist, can be contacted at tcarney His column appears Sunday and Wednesday on