Vaping may be precursor to tobacco use in teens

February 8, 2019

Adolescents who used e-cigarettes or tried vaping before trying any other tobacco product were more likely to be smoking traditional cigarettes sooner than those who had never tried any, a US study team reported in JAMA Network Open.

Andrew Stokes, senior study author of the Boston University School of Public Health has said that it is alarming that e-cigarettes can potentially draw a whole generation into using tobacco.

Stokes and his colleagues worked through the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study (PATH) over three years, with 12-15 year olds who were asked about their socioeconomic backgrounds and attitudes about smoking; in particular, how prone they were toward risky behaviors and sensation-seeking. Of the 6,123 kids who said in the first survey that they had never used any tobacco product, many more reported smoking or having tried traditional cigarettes by the third survey.

The researchers noted that the kids who first tried e-cigarettes had increased odds of becoming regular smokers – almost 4.09 times higher, while those who tried other non-cigarette tobacco products first were 3.84 times higher odds.But the low-risk kids – who initially said they had no interest in smoking, and were less likely to seek out new experiences – doubled their risk of eventual smoking by 8.57 times with their first use of e-cigarettes.

Stokes has several suspicions as to why kids with no previous interest in smoking cigarettes might be open to vaping – the contained nicotine is a highly addictive substance with appealing flavours. This is amplified by the ‘cool factor’ associated with smoking and increased marketing towards youth via social media.

Dr. Brian Primack, director of the Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has agreed that the risk of transitioning is greater for those at low risk; obviously problematic for people who probably would never have touched a cigarette in the first place.

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Category: Education, Features

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