High-schoolers who try e-cigs are more likely to smoke

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that vaporize a solution usually made of glycerin, nicotine and flavoring agents. “Vapers” — as opposed to “smokers” — inhale this vapor, and though they may not be inhaling many of the combustible toxins found in cigarette smoke, e-cigarette vapor contains nicotine.

In a recent scientific study, researchers studied 2,530 ninth graders attending 10 Los Angeles public high schools. They found that the 222 e-cigarette users at the beginning of the study were more likely than the 2,308 students who never used e-cigarettes to smoke regular tobacco after six months and 12 months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the last year, e-cigarette use has tripled among middle and high school students, surpassing traditional cigarettes and every other tobacco product. In a 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, more than 2 million high school students — 13.4 percent — used e-cigarettes. Among middle school students, e-cigarette use went from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014, an increase from about 120,000 to 450,000 students.

These findings are of grave concern to the American Heart Association. Commenting on the new study, Association CEO Nancy Brown said, “These findings are yet another wakeup call to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that final regulations are needed now to protect our kids from tobacco. What is extremely worrisome is that these findings further indicate that e-cigarette use by our nation’s youth, which is a major concern in itself, may also be a gateway to smoking. This new study truly underscores just how dangerous of a habit e-cigarette use can be, especially if it is leading to teens taking up additional tobacco products.

“As this study suggests, the public health nightmare that is tobacco is only getting worse and all tobacco products present risk. Federal oversight of these products will go a long way in the fight against tobacco by helping to combat the tobacco industry’s efforts to foster a new generation of users. That’s why the American Heart Association once again urges the FDA to act swiftly and release the final rule.”

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