GREENSBORO, NC -- North Carolina is one of the state which bans e-cigarettes from being sold to minors. But that doesn't mean teens aren't using them. The 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that recent e-cigarette use nearly doubled in one year among U.S. high school students, rising from 1.5% in 2011 to 2.8% smoking them in 2012.
"E-cigs are appealing to kids they can pass under the radar for detection and they have all kinds of flavors available that are no longer available in cigarettes so they are more appealing to younger smokers, " says Mary Gillett of Guilford County's Tobacco Prevention program.
Because they don't come in a pack and emit a smell, the e-cigs are easy to hide. A study in New York found teens were putting marijuana in the e-cigs to avoid detection. The other big concern with e-cigarettes is the flavoring and little kids. The early e-cigarette models have refillable liquid nicotine cartridges and in flavors like chocolate, cotton candy and others.
Poison control centers around the country have seen a rise in child nicotine poisoning. The national poison data system reported 427 accidental exposures in 2012.
"The cartridge could leak. It's small enough to put in their mouth," explains Dr. Ray Niaura of the Legacy of Health. The organization is all about tobacco awareness. "In high does it shuts down that part of the nervous system and can result in severe consequences."
The kids don't have to drink it either. Nicotine can be absorbed by the skin and since kids have no tolerance their symptoms could be more severe at lower levels of nicotine exposure. Nicotine poisoning symptoms include hyperactivity, flushing, sweating, headache, dizziness, rapid heart rate.