E-cigarettes are a popular alternative to puffing tobacco products, but they can have a boomerang effect on teen users, a study of 10 Los Angeles high schools indicates.
Teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more likely than others to later smoke cigarettes and use other tobacco products, The Associated Press reports.
Nancy Rigotti, director of a tobacco research and treatment center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a commentary published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that the study “is the strongest evidence to date that e-cigarettes might pose a health hazard by encouraging adolescents to start smoking conventional tobacco products.”
The government funded study focused on 2,500 14-year-olds who had never used tobacco products. The young people were first surveyed in the fall of 2013. At that time only 9 percent, or 222 teens said they had used e-cigarettes once. Within the next six months, about a third of them said they had tried other tobacco products compared with 8 percent of the students who had never tried e-cigarettes. The gap continued about a year after the study began.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn nicotine-containing liquid into vapor that is inhaled. The nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive just as in conventional tobacco products, however, without the chemicals and tars of burning tobacco. E-cigarettes, which have been around about 10 years, are popular among youths.
E-cigarettes haven’t been studied in depth to determine the potential benefits, harm or whether it leads young people to use conventional tobacco products. For the health of young people, more study is needed along with more regulations to limit minors’ exposure.