Study shows more teens turning to electronic cigarettes

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Define irony - a smoke shop employee trying to kick the habit. 

"Well, right now I'm trying to quit smoking and I cut down drastically. But I'm still craving every once in a while," Khal Assaf said. 

Assaf's kids have recently started the hookah. 

"It's their prerogative, I don't like it to be honest with you. I encourage them not to smoke. But they're not regular smokers, they just like for fun every once in a while," he said.

Turns out, Assaf's kids aren't alone. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests more teens are trying E-cigarettes. Assaf understands the draw.

"I'm a smoker, I don't smoke inside my home. So this is another tool for me because it's not harming my wife or my son.  And also the smell, it doesn't have any odor so also that help," he said.

We talked to Eisenhower Pulminary Critical Care Physician Hassan Bencheqroun, who says E-cigarettes may be not be as harmful as real cigarettes, but they're still not healthy.

"Most of them have nicotine in them. There are some of them that are nicotine free and that's what I advocate for my patients," Bencheqroun said. 

Smoking is still the leading cause of avoidable death in the United States,  and while E-cigarettes are not a proven gateway drug, many experts say they could eventually be just that, a path to smoking real cigarettes. 

"So that's what makes it disturbing is that a lot of teens, there's one in 10 teens actually that actually have used it. And 90% of smokers actually started in their teenage years," Bencheqroun said. 

Bottom line, Bencheqroun said E-cigarettes can help you quit, but they aren't a risk-free alternative to smoking.  

"They're a better option only for smokers. If someone is not a smoker that's not even an option," he said. 

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