RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
We have new information about electronic cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined who uses them. Here's NPR's Rob Stein.
ROB STEIN, BYLINE: The new information comes from a survey of more than 36,000 Americans. Charlotte Shoenborn of the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics analyzed the data.
CHARLOTTE SHOENBORN: We found that about 13 percent of adults have ever tried any cigarette, that means ever tried at all - even one time - and about 4 percent are current users of e-cigarettes.
STEIN: But the big question is - who are these people? Turns out, a lot of them are smokers or people who recently kicked the habit.
SHOENBORN: Forty-eight percent of current smokers had tried an e-cigarette and 55 percent of recent former, meaning they quit smoking in the past year, had tried an e-cigarette.
STEIN: The survey also confirmed something that a lot of people thought about e-cigarettes - their biggest fans are young adults, those between the ages of 18 and 24, even if they've never smoked regular cigarettes.
SHOENBORN: The interesting thing there is that it's almost 1 in 10 of those young adults who had not taken up cigarettes, 1 in 10 had tried an e-cigarette. That's the most noteworthy.
STEIN: And that's the finding that alarms many public health advocates. Erika Sward of the American Lung Association says e-cigarettes are hooking a whole new generation on nicotine.
ERIKA SWARD: The results are very troubling. What we're really seeing is the e-cigarette industry targeting young people and potentially addicting them to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.
STEIN: And Sward and others argue it remains far from clear whether smokers are using e-cigarettes to quit or just as a crutch to keep smoking. The e-cigarette industry has a very different interpretation of the new survey. Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association says the data are clear. E-cigarettes are mainly used by smokers to quit or cut back. And young non-smokers who try them are just experimenting without getting hooked.
GREGORY CONLEY: E-cigarettes are something that people are willing to perhaps take a puff off of because it looks funny, but it's not something that is creating nicotine dependency in those that did not previously have it. So I'd say that that's good news that this is a product that people can try and they don't go back to it.
STEIN: The Food and Drug Administration is in the final stages of trying to decide how to regulate e-cigarettes. Rob Stein, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.