THURSDAY, Dec. 19, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- A new survey finds that 44 percent of American adults are concerned that the use of e-cigarettes by children and teens will encourage them to start smoking.
In addition, nearly half of the parents surveyed (48 percent) are worried that their children will try e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that look like cigarettes but do not burn tobacco. They have replaceable cartridges of nicotine-containing liquid, which is inhaled as a vapor. These liquids have flavors such as fruit, chocolate, candy and tobacco.
Of the more than 2,100 adults aged 18 and older who were surveyed, 86 percent of respondents had heard of e-cigarettes, but only 13 percent had tried one, according to the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.
Sixty-five percent of respondents said that e-cigarettes should have health warnings like tobacco cigarettes and nicotine products, and 88 percent think manufacturers should be required to test e-cigarettes for safety. In addition, 86 percent of survey respondents said minors should be banned from buying e-cigarettes, and 71 percent supported restricting the marketing of e-cigarettes on social networking sites.
"This poll shows high levels of concern about e-cigarettes and the possibility that kids who try them could start smoking tobacco," poll director Dr. Matthew Davis said in a university news release.
E-cigarettes are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but 26 states prohibit their sale to minors, according to background information in the news release.
"E-cigarettes are a relatively new product, with little information about safety or long-term health effects. However, the public is clearly aware of the devices and concerned about their impact, according to this month's poll results," said Davis, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and professor of public policy at U-M's School of Public Policy.
"We hope the results of this poll spur more discussion about what governments can do to regulate e-cigarettes or restrict sales to minors. After all, taking these steps now will allow us to protect the health of both children and adults in the future," he added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about e-cigarettes.