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Study Finds E-Cigs May Encourage Youths to Smoke Traditional Cigarettes

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Another study raises concerns about the increasing popularity among teens of e-cigarettes, suggesting that use of the electronic devices actually increase the likelihood that teens will later smoke traditional cigarettes. 

In a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on August 13, researchers found that among teens who have ever experimented with cigarettes, those who tried e-cigs at some point were more likely to have tried traditional cigarettes or to be current cigarette smokers.

The cross-sectional study involved an examination of data from a sample of U.S. middle and high school students in 2011 and 2012, who completed the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Researchers found that in 2011, a current cigarette smoker who had used e-cigarettes even once was more likely to intend to quit smoking within the next year. However, e-cigarettes use was associated with higher odds of having tried cigarettes or currently smoking cigarettes, not the other way around. Established smokers were more likely to have tried e-cigarettes.

Among established current e-cigarette smokers, teens who used e-cigarettes were more likely to have tried smoking cigarettes in the past and to be current cigarettes smokers as well. Teens who experimented with traditional cigarettes and have used e-cigarettes at some time were also less likely to abstain from cigarettes during the most recent 30-days, 60-days or year.

The study found that, overall, current users of e-cigarettes had lower abstinence rates for traditional cigarettes. The results appear to refute the commonly held belief that using e-cigarettes helps traditional smokers quit.

“Use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among US adolescents,” wrote study authors.

Concern Over Teen E-Cig Use

A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in March suggested that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to future cigarette addiction among teens. Researchers found e-cigarette use among teens was associated with higher odds of smoking traditional cigarettes. That study also found users of e-cigarettes were also less likely to abstain from smoking traditional cigarettes.

A study conducted by Consumer Reports revealed a large number of calls to poison centers involved e-cigarettes use among children under the age of five. Throughout the U.S. centers received more than double the amount of e-cigarette poison calls during the first six months of 2014 than they received during the first half of 2013.

Because of the severe increase in poisoning reports, Consumer Reports called for legislation to require manufacturers to use child safety packaging for liquid nicotine containers.

As concerns over the use of e-cigarettes has increased, the FDA announced plans to begin overseeing e-cigarettes earlier this year. Some have suggested that the proposed rules fall short of what they should be, indicating that tougher restrictions are needed on flavors that target teens and tougher age limit regulations should be imposed.

The regulations restrict children under the age of 18 from being able to legally buy the products, but continue to allow manufacturers to make what some say are teen enticing flavors like bubble gum and orange fizz.

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