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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is saying that for the first time, fewer young people are using e-cigarettes. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein has the details.
ROB STEIN, BYLINE: E-cigarettes look a lot like regular cigarettes, but instead of burning tobacco, they heat up a liquid that contains nicotine, producing a vapor that users inhale. And Brian King of the CDC says American kids went crazy for these things when they showed up in stores.
BRIAN KING: The increases that we saw in e-cigarette use among youth were simply unprecedented.
STEIN: That sudden surge triggered widespread alarm among health experts. E-cigarettes are probably safer than regular cigarettes, but no one really knows how much safer, and nicotine is a powerful drug.
KING: Nicotine's highly addictive and can also harm the developing adolescent brain.
STEIN: So King says it's a huge relief to see what the latest statistics show. The number of middle and high school students vaping dropped from 3 million in 2015 to just under 2.2 million in 2016.
KING: This is actually the first time that we've seen a decline in youth e-cigarette use since we started measuring this. So it's actually quite remarkable from a public health standpoint - 800,000 fewer youth that are using a product within only a one-year period.
STEIN: Now, King doesn't know what caused the turnaround, but he thinks it's probably a combination of factors - big public campaigns about the dangers of vaping, bans on vaping in public places and selling e-cigarettes to minors. Whatever the reason, anti-smoking advocates are thrilled.
ROBIN KOVAL: This is good. This is very good.
STEIN: Robin Koval heads the anti-smoking group called the Truth Initiative.
KOVAL: There's really no reason why we want to see a new generation finding new ways to use nicotine.
STEIN: But Koval and King say it's too soon to know for sure whether things have really turned around for good, and too many kids are still using e-cigarettes and smoking regular cigarettes. Rob Stein, NPR News.
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