New research suggests that e-cigarette use among adolescents increases the likelihood of smoking conventional cigarettes.
The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has become popular amongst adolescents. E-cigarettes not only provide an alternate avenue for tobacco intake, but the perception of a ‘safer’ tobacco, without the toxic chemicals associated with conventional combustible cigarettes may also be a problem. There are concerns that e-cigarettes could lead to an increase in tobacco use amongst adolescents, and could potentially lead to the smoking of conventional cigarettes in this population.
A recent study has investigated whether e-cigarette use leads to smoking of conventional cigarettes in adolescents who did not smoke prior to their e-cigarette use. The study followed adolescents from ten public high schools in Los Angeles, California, monitoring their use of tobacco products. While the participants reported not using combustible tobacco at the beginning of the study, after 6 months those who had used e-cigarettes reported more frequent use of combustible tobacco (including cigar and hookah). The likelihood of combustible tobacco use was also found to be increased at 12 months following the initiation of the study.
The results of the study demonstrate that high school students who used e-cigarettes were more likely to begin use of combustible tobacco in the following year. These results are concerning, and should be taken into consideration when addressing regulation of e-cigarettes.
Leventhal, AM, Strong, DR, Kirkpatrick, MG, Unger, JB, Sussman, S, Riggs, NR, Stone, MD, Khoddam, R, Samet, JM, Audrain-McGovern, J. “Association of Electronic Cigarette Use With Initiation of Combustible Tobacco Product Smoking in Early Adolescence” JAMA. 2015;314(7):700-707. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8950.
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Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD