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Amid increasing concern about the popularity of e-cigarettes amoung teens and young adults, a new study suggests that adolescents who vape are more likely to end up smoking tobacco cigarettes than those who do not use the electronic nicotine devices.
Researchers with the University of Southern California published a study in the December issue of the medical journal Pediatrics, which indicates that using electronic cigarettes increases a teen’s odds of smoking more traditional tobacco cigarettes by a factor of four.
The findings indicate that electronic cigarettes are not helping teens avoid addiction to traditional cigarettes, and suggest that the devices may actually cause more future smokers.
The new study focused on data from three studies in California and Connecticut, including the Children’s Health Study, the Happiness and Health Study, and the Yale Adolescent Survey study. The studies surveyed more than 6,200 high school students about their e-cigarette and smoking usage in 2013–2014. They were followed up one to two years later from 2014–2016.
According to the findings, among teens who had never smoked, e-cigarette users were more than four times as likely to experiment or become infrequent cigarette smokers, and more than three times as likely to become regular cigarette smokers.
The study’s findings indicated 7% of teens who never smoked e-cigarettes or tobacco cigarettes started smoking tobacco cigarettes by one year later. However, 21% of e-cigarette users began smoking regular cigarettes by one year later. The number of days that teens smoked in the prior 30 days before being surveyed was similar for those who began smoking after using e-cigarettes or for those who began smoking without first using e-cigarettes. Their habits were similar, no matter how they started.
Adolescents who used e-cigarettes had greater odds of experimenting with tobacco cigarettes one year later. Teens who were using both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes were more likely to continue using both than to switch to vaping only.
Researchers claim this study was especially helpful in finding patterns in teen vaping and cigarette use because it allowed them to look at the point before teens started smoking or first began smoking and see what patterns developed a year later.
The findings come as other studies indicate e-cigarettes are now the most popular form of tobacco among teens, leading the CDC to issue warnings concerning teen vaping and the FDA calling for certain flavor restrictions on e-cigarettes for teens.
The e-cigarette market is expected to reach $44.6 billion worldwide in five years,
“Tobacco control policy to reduce adolescent use of both e-cigarettes and cigarettes is needed to prevent progression to more frequent tobacco use patterns and reduce combustible cigarette use (with or without concurrent e-cigarette use) to lessen the adverse public health impact of e-cigarettes,” the researchers wrote.