A new study led by researchers from the University of Southern California found that teenagers who try e-cigarettes are more likely to try traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products. The authors say that the findings support the need to regulate e-cigarettes, which have become increasing popular. They noted that the study does not show that use of e-cigarettes causes teens to smoke, but it serves as evidence that it might.
Adam Leventhal of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, who led the study, said “While we cannot concluded that e-cigarette use directly leads to smoking, this research raises concerns that recent increases in youth e-cigarette use could ultimately perpetuate the epidemic of smoking-related illness,” according to NBC News.
The study surveyed over 2,500 Los Angeles-area 9th graders who said they had never tried any tobacco products at the start of high school. The participants were surveyed six months later and again at the start of 10th grade. Out of the 200 students who said tried e-cigarettes, 31 percent reported trying a traditional tobacco product in the past six months. Comparatively, only 8 percent of the students who said they never tried vaping tried traditional tobacco products. At one-year follow-up, 25 percent of teenagers who said they tried vaping reported smoking tobacco in the past six months compared to 9 percent of kids who did not vape.
The researchers say that these findings may simply indicate that some teens are more likely to rebel than others, or that some are more prone to nicotine. Leventhal stated, “Adolescents who enjoy the experience of inhaling nicotine via e-cigarettes could be more apt to experiment with other nicotine products, including smokeable tobacco,”
But study also raises concerns that electronic cigarettes pave the way to other tobacco products. Matthew Myers, presidents of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the study “provides troubling new evidence that use of electronic cigarettes by youth who had not previously smoked could lead to use of cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products,”
The study also indicates that teens are trying e-cigarettes more often than traditional tobacco products. Dr. Nancy Rigotti of the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School wrote in a commentary, “There is ample evidence that e-cigarettes are marketed in ways that appeal to children and adolescents. Prompt, effective action is needed to protect youth and reduce the demand for e-cigarettes by nonsmokers of all ages,”