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As state and federal health officials work to increase awareness about the risks associated with e-cigarettes, new research suggests that teens who vape commonly fail to realize that the products cause them to consumer as much nicotine as a traditional smoker of tobacco cigarette.
Researchers from Stony Brook University found that many teens think their vaping does not involve nicotine use, when in reality they are taking in high levels of nicotine, potentially priming them for future cigarette use.
The findings were published in the April 2019 issue of the journal Pediatrics, involving a study of more than 500 teens between the ages of 12 and 21, who completed an anonymous questionnaire about tobacco use, e-cigarette use, and marijuana use between April 2017 to April 2018. They also provided a urine sample which was anonymously linked to their questionnaire using a numbering system.
Researchers then compared teen self-reporting of vaping, cigarette, and marijuana use to urinary biomarkers.
The self-reporting indicated 14% admitted to ever trying cigarettes, 36% reported trying e-cigarettes, and 31% admitted they had tried marijuana. According to the findings, three percent of teens said they used cigarettes in the past week, 14% said they vaped in the past week, and 11% said they used marijuana in the past week.
Urine testing indicated two percent of the teens who reported that they did not smoke had levels of nicotine metabolites higher than the study cutoff levels. Another two percent who said they did not use e-cigarettes also had nicotine levels above cutoff ranges and two percent of teens who denied using marijuana had THC levels above cutoff ranges.
More than 40% of teens who said they vaped products that didn’t contain nicotine had nicotine levels above cutoff ranges. The data indicates many teens simply are unaware of what their vape liquid contains, the researchers concluded.
The new research also showed users of pod type vapes, such as JUUL products, had significantly higher nicotine levels than users of older electronic cigarette devices. Pod mods are newer vape tech that has a disposable pod or cartridge. These teens are getting far more nicotine than teens using older e-cigarettes styles.
Researchers also noted that 61% of teens with higher nicotine levels also had high levels of THC in their urine.
Teen Vaping Concerns
The study findings indicate more teens are exposed to nicotine and many are unaware of their exposure, which may serve as a gateway to addiction and later tobacco cigarette use, researchers warn.
A recent government study concluded nearly 5 million middle and high school students are currently using tobacco products. In fact, 1.5 million more teens began vaping in 2018 than in 2017. In fact, vaping is now the most popular form of tobacco use among American teens.
Studies show it is easy for many teens to purchase vape devices and e-liquids on the internet. In fact, there are often no age restrictions safeguards against teens buying the products even though they are underage.