Kids Who Vape More Likely to Become Regular Smokers, Study Finds

November 14, 2016
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Adolescents with a regular vaping habit aren’t just more likely to take up smoking; they also have higher odds of developing a heavy cigarette habit, a U.S. study suggests.

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The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, calls into question whether e-cigarettes can be an effective cessation aid, said lead study author Adam Leventhal, director of the University of Southern California’s Emotion and Addiction Laboratory in Los Angeles.

“Our most recent study is the first to show that teenagers who vape not only experiment with cigarettes, but are also more likely to become regular smokers,” Leventhal said by email. “It is also the first time teenage vaping has been linked to heavier smoking patterns involving use of multiple cigarettes per day.”

Big tobacco companies are all developing e-cigarettes.

The battery-powered devices feature a glowing tip and a heating element that turns liquid nicotine and other flavorings into a cloud of vapor that users inhale.

E-cigarette use has surged among U.S. teens in recent years, surpassing traditional cigarettes to become the most popular tobacco product among young people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An estimated 3 million middle and high school students used the devices last year.

While tobacco control advocates fear e-cigarettes may give rise to a new generation of nicotine addicts who eventually transition to conventional cigarettes, some small studies suggest the devices might benefit the health of people who already smoke and switch to e-cigs, which are widely regarded as less dangerous.

“E-cigarettes do not prevent teens from advancing to smoking and may possibly do the opposite,” Leventhal said.

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