According to a new study, teens that currently use e-cigarettes are more likely to take up smoking later in life than their peers not engaged in vaping.
The study was conducted by University of Southern California researchers and involved more than 2,000 high school students from The Golden State. Researchers found that 25 percent of teens “vaped” at least once in their life, while 10 percent were active users of e-cigarettes.
But that 10 percent was at risk of smoking real cigarettes later in their life since one third of e-cig users also reported that they smoked tobacco cigarettes compared to only one percent of the ones who said that they never touched an e-cigarette.
Yet, scientists acknowledged that their study didn’t provide enough evidence to support a cause-and-effect relationship between e-cigarette use and tobacco use. But the results suggest that e-cigarettes make traditional cigarettes more appealing to teenagers, explained senior author of the study Jessica Barrington-Trimis.
Also, According to the study, most participants who use e-cigarettes had at least one family member or friend that used the devices. Plus, nearly half of respondents were convinced that e-cigarettes posed no health risk.
A paper on the findings was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The study is consistent with a recent federal report that had shown that e-cigarette use among middle-school and high-school students soared in the U.S. in the last four years. According to official data, the use of the electronic device nearly tripled between 2011 and 2014.
The report also showed that teenagers who vaped planned not to take up smoking later in life. About 40 percent of the study’s participants said that they would never smoke. But researchers noted that kids are still exposed to nicotine when they use e-cigarettes and the U.S. government and states do little about it.
For instance, e-cigarettes are not banned from sale to minors like tobacco cigarettes are, while the Food and Drug Administration only regulates the devices if they are used in programs designed to help users give up smoking.
Dr. Vaughan Rees from the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston, who was not involved in the study, believes that lack of regulation is an issue. He said that the health risks e-cigs may pose are not fully understood. Plus, the devices are based on nicotine, a substance linked to cancer by a plethora of studies.
Dr. Rees also expressed his concerns over the unethical marketing practices of e-cigarette producers when trying to sell their products to young adult consumers who are already addicted to nicotine.
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