E-cigarettes may be a gateway to smoking for teens, researchers say

E-cigarettes may be a gateway to smoking for teens, researchers say

"Although e-cigarettes are the most common form of non-cigarette tobacco used by youths (exceeding cigarette use), any use of all forms of non-cigarette tobacco was independently associated with greater risk of future cigarette smoking; risk was greatest with use of multiple products, a use pattern that is increasing among youths", the researchers wrote.

Using data from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health, the team was able to capture both baseline tobacco use and changes a year later.

However, this study was the first to directly compare these products, as well as compare use of a single product to polyuse of noncigarette products.

A year later, the teens were asked once again about their tobacco use.

"We hear so much talk about e-cigarettes, which are now the most used tobacco product among adolescents, even higher use than cigarettes".

However, as public health experts have previously pointed out in relation to similar findings, such results reporting ever use could easily be attributed to the fact that people who have a tendency to experiment with tobacco products in general, are also more likely to experiment with cigarettes.

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"For example, using tobacco products might expose adolescents to a different social group or social norms around cigarette smoking". One year later, they surveyed the same individuals about ever and past 30-day use of cigarettes.

Study Rundown: Use of noncigarette tobacco products by youths has increased recently, and there is concern that this may lead to increase in cigarette smoking.

The researchers studied cigarette-smoking initiation among more than 10,000 participants in the PATH study.

"Products like e cigarettes are essentially gateways to smoking cigarettes", Chandler said. About 4 percent of teens had vaped at the start of the study, followed by 3 percent who had smoked a hookah, or water pipe, researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed data from almost 12,000 teens.

He added that the clear potential of e-cigarettes and other emerging non-combustible tobacco products to addict teens to nicotine has to be part of the regulatory debate, noting that once teens are addicted, smoking cigarettes may appeal to them as a cheaper, more convenient and more effective method for delivering nicotine.

"It's not surprising that products like e-cigarettes and cigars have become popular with kids when they are sold in sweet flavors like gummy bear and cherry dynamite", said Vince Willmore, vice president of communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which was not involved in the research.

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