E-cigarette advocates might argue that vaping is a successful method for helping adult smokers quit but new evidence now suggests that—regardless of whether or not the adult relationship is true—vaping among adolescents is probably more likely to lead to heavier smoking down the road.
According to lead study author Adam Leventhal, “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.” The University of Southern California director of Emotion and Addiction Laboratory goes on to say, “It is also the first time teenage vaping has been linked to heavier smoking patterns involving use of multiple cigarettes per day.”
Obviously, all of the big tobacco companies are in the process of developing e-cigarettes. These battery-powered devices have a glowing tip (to simulate the fire at the end of a traditional cigarette) with a heating element that converts liquid nicotine (often also flavored) into a cloud vapor that the user then inhales.
Traditional cigarettes have been on the decline over the past few years, particularly among the younger generation. However, the “tech” aspect of e-cigarettes might be contributing to their growing popularity among teens in the United States, of late. As a matter of face, e-cigarettes are now more popular among teens than traditional tobacco products.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are about 3 million middle and high school students who used these devices just last year.
It is difficult to advise either way in regards to teens using e-cigarettes and the potential risk for transitioning to conventional tobacco products. After all, some studies may actually suggest—as mentioned—electronic cigarettes could help people who currently smoke to, at the very least, use products that are not as dangerous.
Indeed, Leventhal advises, “E-cigarettes do not prevent teens from advancing to smoking and may possibly do the opposite.”
Accordingly, University of Pittsburgh researcher Dr. Brian Primack notes, “One interpretation of these findings is that vaping provided a bridge to smoking – young people who may not have otherwise ended up smoking started with palatable, flavored e-cigarettes – and then after they became accustomed to e-cigarette use, many transitioned to traditional cigarette smoking.”
While he was not involved in the study, Dr. Primack goes on to say, “Another possibility is that the young people who ended up smoking by the end of the study were destined to ultimately smoke anyway. As evidence builds, there is more overall support for the former explanation.”