Teens who use electronic cigarettes may be more likely to smoke the real thing, new research suggests.
The study, reported in HealthDay, included almost 2,100 California high school students, found that one-quarter had ever “vaped” (tried e-cigarettes). Ten percent of the teens were currently using e-cigarettes. And those current users were much more likely than their peers to also smoke cigarettes. One-third of e-cigarette users also smoked tobacco cigarettes, versus 1 percent of kids who’d never vaped.
Researchers said the findings do not prove e-cigarettes act as a gateway to tobacco use. But they raise the possibility that e-cigarettes are encouraging a more tobacco-friendly culture among kids, said study leader Jessica Barrington-Trimis, a researcher at the University of Southern California.
The study also found that most kids who used e-cigarettes also had friends or family members who used them. And about half believed these products were harmless.
Those positive attitudes, in turn, were linked to a greater risk of kids’ smoking cigarettes as well.
The study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, comes on the heels of a federal report showing that e-cigarettes are soaring in popularity. Between 2011 and 2014, use of the devices tripled among U.S. middle school and high school students.
The good news in that report was that cigarette smoking was down: It seems many kids who use e-cigarettes have never smoked the traditional version.
That was true in the current study. While many e-cigarette fans also smoked, about 40 percent of current users said they’d never lit up a traditional cigarette.