Big news published today in Pediatrics; a new study reports that adolescents who vape are 6 TIMES more likely to smoke cigarettes in early adulthood. Researchers studied 11th and 12th graders during the transition from being US minors to legal adults when they have the right to buy traditional cigarettes (age 18 years) to see the effect using e-cigs had on smoking traditional, combustible tobacco cigarettes. It’s known that if you’re friends use e-cigs you’re more likely to use and it’s known that rates of e-cig experimentation are on a rocket ride for teens across the US. Because we know that more than 80% of all adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18; and more than 90% do so before leaving their teens, when and why people get addicted to nicotine matters.

Over the last decade there has been great progress in helping teens stay away from tobacco cigarettes but the new vaping trend, e-cigs, hookahs, and chew-able tobacco is unfortunately changing the game and changing risk. Last week the CDC published new data,”Cigarette smoking among high school students dropped to the lowest levels since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) began in 1991, but the use of electronic vapor products, including e-cigarettes, among students poses new challenges according to the 2015 survey results.”

Pediatrics Study Finds E-Cigarettes Increase Cigarette Smoking

  1. Teens who use e-cigarettes at end of high school are more likely to smoke cigarettes once 18 years of age.
  2. The risk of e-cigarette use may vary by age. Researchers wanted to know what happens between e-cigarette users and non-users at the end of high school(HS).
  3. Researchers studied 11th and 12th graders in California as a part of the California Health Study. They followed them prospectively from initial interview at end of high school to about 16 months later to see if differences in smoking behaviors between those who used e-cigarettes in high school and those who didn’t.
  4. At follow-up (once teens were over age 18 years), 40% of those teens who had used an e-cigarette in HS were smoking tobacco cigarettes compared to only 10% of teens who hadn’t used e-cigarettes in 11th and 12th  grade.
  5. At the end of high school, teens are on the brink of huge social changes (college, jobs, adulthood) and access to tobacco cigarettes legally. If using e-cigarettes during this transition, researchers found a 6-times increase risk of using combustible (tobacco) cigarettes once a legal adult (age 18).
  6. Teens who don’t want to smoke may be starting to smoke. The risk of smoking associated with e-cig use even higher among teens who reported no intention to smoke while in HS. Researchers found in these teens, 36% of e-cig users initiated cigarette use compared with only 6% of non=users. Authors of the study conclude that in our e-cigarette rich culture, “E-cig use is likely introducing new youth to tobacco products and is increasing the likelihood of future smoking among the low-risk group who expressed confidence that they would not do so.”

Researchers concluded that follow-up is required to determine if e-cigarette use among the young—where vaping has become popular—will eventually lead to more established smoking patterns and increases in the diseases associated with smoking. Translation: we don’t know if this means e-cigs make more lifelong smokers, but we’re worried they will.

Current cigarette smoking is at an all-time low, which is great news. However, it’s troubling to see that students are engaging in new risk behaviors, such as using e-cigarettes. We must continue to invest in programs that help reduce all forms of tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, among youth.” ~ CDC Director Tom Frieden

Cigarette smoking among high school students dropped to the lowest levels since the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) began in 1991, but the use of electronic vapor products, including e-cigarettes, among students poses new challenges according to the 2015 survey results released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although current cigarette use decreased significantly from 28% in 1991 to 11% in 2015, new data from the 2015 survey found that 24% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes during the past 30 days.