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As e-cigarettes or vaping become increasingly popular among teens and young adults, the findings of new research highlight how the devices make it more likely that a youth will ultimately smoke traditional cigarettes.
In a study published this week in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, researchers indicate that teens and young adults who smoked e-cigarettes have a 30 percent higher risk of smoking regular cigarettes, despite the known health risks.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of more than 7,000 studies on e-cigarette use, including data for nearly 18,000 adolescents and young adults ages 14 through 30.
The study reviewed data published in PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, the 2016 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 22nd Annual Meeting, the 2016 Society of Behavioral Medicine 37th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions, and the 2016 National Institutes of Health Tobacco Regulatory Science Program Conference.
Researchers said the data showed “strong and consistent” evidence of tobacco cigarette use after a teen or adult used e-cigarettes. Last year, another study published similar findings, indicating teens who vaped flavored e-cigarettes were more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes.
The new study indicates those who smoked e-cigarettes first had a 30 percent chance of smoking tobacco cigarettes later. Comparatively, those who never tried e-cigarettes only had an eight percent risk of smoking traditional cigarettes.
Youths who smoked e-cigarettes in the past 30 days had a 21 percent increased likelihood of smoking tobacco cigarettes, compared to those who did not smoke e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. They only had a 4.6 percent risk of smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Research from 2015 concluded vaping e-cigarettes was just as addictive as smoking tobacco cigarettes, since the tobacco found in e-cigarette liquid was released in its most addictive form.
E-cigarettes may also pose their own health dangers to both teens and adults. Research published in 2014 indicated e-cigarettes release high amounts of cancer-causing chemicals, including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. Another study showed e-cigarette increased the risk of respiratory symptoms, including bronchitis, chronic cough, phlegm, or wheezing.
Studies have indicating that vaping is creating a new generation of tobacco smokers among the nation’s youth who are drawn to the candy-like flavors of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes have become the most popular form of tobacco use among the nation’s youth.
Among high school students, e-cigarette use increased 10-fold, from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015. While many states regulate the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, e-cigarettes are easily available to youth via the internet.
“Strong e-cigarette regulation could potentially curb use among youth and possibly limit the future population-level burden of cigarette smoking,” warned researchers.