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Flavored E-Cigarettes Increase Risk Children May Try Smoking: Study

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Teens who smoke flavored e-cigarettes appear to be more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes in the future, according to the findings of a new study. 

In a report published in the November issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers link teen use of the highly popular flavored e-cigarettes to a higher chance of smoking tobacco cigarettes, and also found that those teens who smoked traditional cigarettes were less likely to quit if they also vaped using flavored e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are especially popular among youth because of the many candy-like flavors available on the market, including flavors like bubble gum and fruit punch. In this study, researchers from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Missouri set out to estimate the use of flavored e-cigarettes and the impact the widely popular products may have on teens.

Researchers used data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey to estimate flavored e-cigarette use and assess whether flavored e-cigarettes were associated with a higher likelihood to use tobacco cigarettes.

In that same year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned that the number of teens using e-cigarettes was rapidly rising, causing federal health officials to express concern over the devices and teen use.

According to this latest study, more than 1.5 million teens, in both middle and high schools across the U.S., are using flavored e-cigarettes. They represent about 61% of current teen tobacco users in America. However, the researchers warn teens are not stopping with flavored e-cigarettes. They are moving on to begin smoking traditional cigarettes.

The findings suggest that about 58% of teens who used flavored e-cigarettes said they planned to start smoking tobacco cigarettes. Comparatively, 47% of teens who used non-flavored e-cigarettes said they would start smoking tradition cigarettes, while 20% of youth who didn’t vape at all, said they would start smoking.

The study also indicated among teens who already smoked tobacco cigarettes, they were less likely to want to quit tobacco cigarettes if they also smoked flavored e-cigarettes.

Additionally, fewer teens who smoked flavored e-cigarettes had an accurate perception of the danger of tobacco products.

Among youth who have never tried traditional cigarettes, 56% of current e-cigarette users said they used flavored e-cigarettes. Among current tobacco smokers, 68% of current e-cigarette users reported using flavored e-cigarettes. Flavored products are widely used among both demographics.

Many adult e-cigarette users turn to vaping to help them quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. However, the findings of the new study indicate teens are not using e-cigarettes this way. Instead, the devices seem to be a gateway to future tobacco use, which appears to confirm another recent study that found that e-cigarettes may be just as addictive as tobacco cigarettes.

“We found that compared with not using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, flavored e-cigarette use was associated with higher odds of intention to initiate cigarette use among never-smoking youth, lower odds of intention to quit tobacco use among current-smoking youth, and a lower prevalence of perception of tobacco’s danger among users of flavored e-cigarettes,” the researchers wrote. “Comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies that address flavored e-cigarette products are critically needed to reduce tobacco use among youth.”

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