ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A local toxicologist says he is worried about the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes among kids and teens.

A new survey finds two percent of middle and high school students say they’ve used an e-cigarette in the previous month, up from one percent the year before.

Saint Louis University toxicologist Dr. Anthony Scalzo is medical director of the Missouri Regional Poison Center.

“Teens, adolescents, young brains are obviously quite bright in many cases but the connections between nerves, what are called synapses, have not completely developed and I think they’ll be more susceptible to the effects of the nicotine,” he explained.

“Their impulsivity, their tendency to do something that they haven’t completely thought out yet, is definitely documented and their brains don’t really mature until the early 20s,” Scalzo added. “My concern is that they’ll be addicted to the nicotine maybe more quickly and it will persist.”

Scalzo says the e-cigarette industry is unregulated and there are no studies on what may be the long-range effect of using electronic cigarettes.


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