New research indicates that teens who regularly use e-cigarettes are more likely to become heavy and frequent smokers of traditional cigarettes.
Students at 10 Los Angeles County public schools were surveyed, and the results were surprising. The survey found that teens who regularly vape are more than twice as likely to pick up smoking traditional cigarettes on a weekly basis.
The findings also showed double likelihood that the teens would smoke more cigarettes on days when they do smoke as a result of vaping.
“The more you vape, the more likely in the future you’re going to be smoking (cigarettes). You’re going to be smoking more frequently and you’re going to smoke more cigarettes per day on your smoking days,” said lead researcher Adam Leventhal, associate professor of preventive medicine and psychology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.
The researchers advised that, according to background information, more than one-third of 10th graders in the U.S. report using e-cigarettes.
Nearly 3,100 10th graders in the Los Angeles area were surveyed for the study, once during fall of 2014, and again six months later.
“It was a short period, but it was an important period,” Leventhal pointed out. “Teens who start smoking and become regular smokers at this age, around 16, are more likely to become chronic smokers throughout adulthood.”
“It could be that kids get hooked on nicotine and turn to tobacco for a stronger fix,” Leventhal added. Leventhal also believes that e-cigarettes could be the device that teaches a teen how to smoke, and gets them familiar with the act.
“Once they start smoking, it’s not a foreign sensation to them,” Leventhal said. “They’ve experienced the act of drawing in these vapor clouds from e-cigarettes and then exhaling them. When they puff on a regular cigarette, it could be more pleasing in comparison to someone who puffs a cigarette for the first time and never had the experience of inhaling a substance before.”
Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor for the American Lung Association, says the survey findings confirm their worst fears.
“That’s exactly what the American Lung Association has been worried about,” Edelman said. “We’re afraid this product will addict youngsters to nicotine and lead them to smoke. That’s contrary to what the proponents of e-cigarettes say, but this study contradicts their claims.”
E-cigarettes are proven to contain harmful, lung-destroying chemicals such as acetoin, formaldehyde, diacetyl and its close cousin 2,3-pentanedione. Diacetyl, a chemical used in flavorings to mimic the creamy taste of butter, has been linked to a serious lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn lung.” This is a disease in which the smallest airways of the lungs become scarred and restricted, and the only treatment is lung transplant.