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2 studies released Monday examine teen e-cigarette use

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) Two studies released Monday examined e-cigarette use among teens and say there is a need to curb that trend.

"It's like 'the thing' or something. It's cool," said 14-year-old Emily Greco.

Greco says she doesn't use e-cigarettes but knows other teenagers who do.

"I think people think they won't get addicted," she said.

It's those children, ones who think vaping isn't harmful, and aren't susceptible to cigarette smoking, who are more likely to use e-cigarettes.

That's according to a study released Monday by the UNC School of Medicine using data from 1,627 high schoolers.

The same study shows teens who are exposed to "vaping" in public are more likely to try it.

"If you can keep some kids from trying tobacco products between 18 and 21 they are a lot less likely to be using them as adults," said Dr. Lauren Dutra the author of a second study released Monday.

Dutra, a researcher with RTI International, examined whether or not age restrictions on e-cigarettes is causing kids to smoke more cigarettes.

She said the current age laws are beneficial and in some cases are actually causing cigarette smoking to decrease, but she would like to see the regulation go farther.

Dutra suggests raising the age restriction for e-cigarette purchases from 18 to 21.

"At this point, we have a large body of research. We know that most of them contain nicotine. Nicotine is addictive. Kids are using them and that we need to keep them away from adolescents," Dutra said.

"I do think it's kind of a gateway," said mom Laura Phillips.

Phillips says her 8-year-old son Owen has already been taught about the dangers of cigarette smoking, and thinks raising that age requirement isn't such a bad idea.

"He's a smart boy, but when you get peer pressure, the older you are if you wait hopefully you'll wise up some," she said.

WNCN tried to speak with several stores that sell e-cigarettes. No one wanted to go on camera, but say they see teens who want to purchase e-cigarettes.

The UNC School of Medicine study suggested a way to curb the trend would be anti-vaping ads similar to the smoke-free campaigns targeted at teens.

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