Teens Who Vape More Likely To Move On To Traditional Cigarettes – Study

Contrary to a popular belief that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, help control nicotine cravings, a new study reports that vaping could lead teens and adolescents to start smoking regular cigarettes.

What is more shocking about the recent findings is that teens who never intended to smoke cigarettes were much more likely to opt for conventional tobacco cigarettes following vaping.

A survey of about 300 high school students found that teens who used battery-powered e-cigarettes were six times more at risk of lighting up their first tobacco cigarette, in comparison to those who never used this smoking device.

“Adolescents who had never smoked, but who had used e-cigarettes, were substantially more likely to begin smoking combustible cigarettes over the next year,” said study lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis, who is a postdoctoral researcher with the University of Southern California’s Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science.

“The increase in e-cigarette use, which may be followed by increases in cigarette use, could result in an erosion of the progress that has been made over the last several decades in tobacco control,” Barrington-Trimis said.

To reach their findings, Barrington-Trimis and her team surveyed a total of 298 11th and 12th graders in southern California, average age 17, about their use of e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs. Of the participants, 146 were e-cigarette users, while 152 had never tried them and none of them had smoked cigarettes.

But an average of 16 months later, the researchers noticed that 40 percent of teens who vaped had begun smoking conventional cigarettes versus 11 percent of those who’d never used electronic cigarettes.

This difference persisted even after the investigators had taken into consideration factors like gender, parents’ education level and ethnicity.

“We can’t definitively conclude the e-cigarettes cause kids to smoke cigarettes,” Barrington-Trimis said, but those who had used e-cigs at baseline were much more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes may be eroding this intention not to smoke, or introducing the kids to nicotine. But more research is needed; we don’t really have enough data to sort it out,” she added.

The researchers also found that e-cigarette users were also more likely to try hookahs, pipes or cigars.

Meanwhile, commenting on the safety of e-cigarettes, Aruni Bhatnagar, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, said: “The picture is still unclear. We do not know to what level or to what extent these devices are safe.”

“We are trying vigorously to be able to come out with some useful information about the long term toxicity but it’s going to take time,” Bhatnagar says. “We need to see how much disease is increased or decreased with the use of e-cigarettes.”

The study is published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.