Vaping among young teens may increase likelihood of smoking

Barsaba Taglieri
Agosto 18, 2017

The proportion of schoolchildren who had used an e-cigarette and reported starting to smoke within a year, compared with children who had not tried an e-cigarette and reported starting to smoke over the same time period.

Around 350,000 people in the United States quit smoking 2014-15 due to vaping, the study claimed.

But smokers who were only occasional users of e-cigarettes were less likely to quit smoking cigarettes.

They mined data from the survey responses of 2386 teens from 20 schools across England in 2014 (baseline), when respondents were aged 13 and 14, and again a year later. Some had tried tobacco but the vast majority were non-smokers.

E-cigarette use may also have "normalised" any kind of nicotine use through developing addiction to it, but they point out that there is no direct evidence as yet to back this up.

A year later they were asked whether they smoked cigarettes, and if so, how many; and their breath carbon monoxide levels were re-assessed.

The findings showed that among teenagers who at the start of the survey said they had never smoked cigarettes but had tried e-cigarettes, more than a third, or 34.4 percent, said a year later that they had tried cigarettes. Can e-cigs actually help you quit smoking?

The use of e-cigarettes may be prompting young teenagers to move on to conventional cigarettes, according to a new study.

The scientific paper raises the question that the adolescents who tried e-cigarettes would have tried smoking anyway, whether e-cigarettes were available or not?

"In the United Kingdom and the U.S., it seems unlikely that e-cigarette use by young people is causing more of them to smoke because smoking rates in this age group now are declining at least as fast as they were before e-cigarettes started to become popular".

But the data suggested the opposite. "That would suggest that it's actually the adolescents who are at high risk of smoking who would be likely to try e-cigarettes first and then go on to smoke, [but] we found the opposite".

The researchers also looked at the teenagers who had already smoked at least one cigarette at the start of the study. "What this suggests to us is that it might be those who are not normally at risk of smoking, by trying e-cigarettes, they're becoming exposed to others who smoke and through that, are normalized to smoking and go on to try cigarettes when they wouldn't normally have done so".

"This is particularly interesting as it runs contrary to the suggestion that adolescents who try e-cigarettes would have been likely to try smoking anyway due to factors such as peer pressure from friends who smoke".

It could also be that the use of e-cigarettes creates friendship networks with smokers.

Kamran Siddiqi, Professor in Public Health at the University of York and another co-author, said: "Our study highlights the value of regulating marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to adolescents. It is important to enforce these measures effectively and remain vigilant by closely monitoring e-cigarette use in minors".

"Given the lack of clarity regarding the mechanism linking e-cigarette and cigarette use, we need to be cautious in making policy recommendations based on our findings" the researchers stated.

From October 2015, it has been illegal in the United Kingdom for retailers to sell e-cigarettes or vaporising liquids to anyone under the age of 18.

Since the research began, a new generation of vaping devices has come on to the market that more closely mimic cigarettes, the researchers pointed out.

Official statistics show that e-cigarette usage is going up and cigarette usage is declining among young people - a fact Professor Conner says appears to have some contradiction to the findings of the research project.

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