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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 2:17pm
El Paso (KDBC) — The electronic cigarette industry is worth $2 billion, and growing fast.
Health officials say the popularity among teenagers is a growing concern.
"I think teens see it as something cool to do," said Francisco Mendez, a student from East El Paso.
The El Paso Department of Public Health said teens and children raise questions about e-cigs.
"How they work, are they dangerous. And since they're seeing them more in the homes, they think they are more acceptable," said Rosalinda Medina, health education and prevention specialist with the El Paso Department of Public Health.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization are speaking out against the possible dangers, and urging regulations.
Officials call e-cigs a gateway for other products like cigarettes.
According to the CDC, between 2011 and 2013, the number of teens who tried an e-cig tripled. Of these teens, none of them had tried a conventional cigarette.
"The commercials, they say its better for you, it's evaporation and all of this," said Eric, a student from West El Paso.
Users say it's a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes and can even help stop smoking. Though e-cigs don't have the same ingredients as a cigarette, they still contain nicotine, which can be harmful to an teen's body.
Here in the Sun City, City Council voted to ban the use of e-cigs in public places back in June.
And that ban is fast approaching.
"It will take place September 1, 2014. And basically what it entails is any electronic cigarette or any other electronic smoking device will be prohibited, in the same places traditional smoking devices are used," Medina said.
E-cig users, and businesses owners opposed the changes in the ordinance, and spoke out at the City Council meetings. But the health department said it's for the greater good.
"The end all is that we want to make El Paso a healthier community," Medina said.
For more information about the ordinance, visit the Department of Public Health's website.