INDIANAPOLIS - Electronic cigarettes are sold as a healthier, more convenient option for smokers, but some experts are concerned about how the marketing efforts are affecting Hoosier children.
The percentage of U.S. middle and high school students who use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A study said 10 percent of middle and high school students nationwide say they have tried one.
The makers of the product said it is not intended to be marketed toward kids.
Bill Stanczykiewcz, with the Indiana Youth Institute, said that little mention isn't working and that years of work to limit how regular cigarettes are marketed is being undone by the less-regulated e-cigarette industry.
"E-cigarettes are being marketed as hip and cool and glamorous, hearkening back to the days of the Marlboro man or the glamorous woman in Virginia Slims. That's what’s really concerning, because while that marketing has been happening and the industry says it’s not for the kids, the rate amongst kids has doubled using this product," Stanczykiewcz said.
The point is not lost on Indiana lawmakers who passed a law making it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors earlier in the year.
"I think it put us ahead of the wave a little bit, in that again what we saw coming was that this was going to be a product that I think will be very attractive to young people," Rep. Matt Lehman said.
Stanczykiewcz thinks it is important to educate parents about the rising trend.
"The number one thing we need to do is get the word out. Get the word out to parents. A lot of parents don't even know about this product and aren’t seeing it just yet. Letting the teachers and youth workers know about this as well so they can talk about it with kids," Stanczykiewcz said.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has joined 39 other attorneys general in calling on the Federal Drug Administration to regulate electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product.