HealthDay News — “Aggressive steps” must be taken by parents, teachers, health providers, and government officials to prevent children and teens from using electronic cigarettes, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., said in an advisory.

For young people, “nicotine is dangerous and it can have negative health effects,” Adams told the Associated Press. “It can impact learning, attention, and memory, and it can prime the youth brain for addiction.”

The sale of e-cigarettes to those younger than 18 years is illegal under federal law. Parents, teachers, and health professionals should educate themselves about e-cigarettes, explain the risks to children, and be role models by not using tobacco products, Adams said.

The latest federal figures show that 3.6 million teens use e-cigarettes, which works out to one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students, the AP reported. Twice as many high school students used e-cigarettes this year compared with last year, according to separate survey results released yesterday.

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