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Teens Who Use E-Cigs Raise Risk Of Becoming Heavy Smokers

Dorathy Gass

While e-cigarettes have been billed as device that can help smokers kick the bad habit, a new study reveals teens that engage in vaping increase their risk of becoming heavy conventional smokers.

The research dove deeper to look at the connection between e-cigs and smoking regular cigarettes when it comes to teenagers. It is currently being reported that approximately 37% of American teens in grade ten engage in vaping. Past research has indicated that teens who engage in vaping have been linked to smoking traditional cigarettes. The recent study links vaping, its frequency, and the possibility of teens turning into heavy smokers.

The study involved a meta-analysis of surveys that were offered to teens in the tenth grade to ten Los Angeles public high schools in the 2014/15 school year. Surveys were handed out at the start of the term to establish a baseline and once again in the spring as a follow up. The team gathered information from over 3,280 individuals in the fall, and then just over 3,250 in the spring.

The study established a four-level scale when it came to assessing vaping use at the start of the school. This included: a section where students could indicate ‘never’ using e-cigs; a section for students who had used e-cigs in the past, but not in the last month; a section for infrequent e-cig users who had engaged in the act one or two days in the past month; as well as ‘frequent’ users of e-cigarettes, engaging in the act for three times (or more) days in the month.

The follow up survey had a similar scale, but was geared towards traditional smoking, which included: a section for non-smokers, infrequent (those who had smoked one or two days in the month), as well as frequent smokers who had smoked at a minimum of three times in the month. It also included a ‘heaviness’ scale when it came to smoking with zero, less than one, and two and up cigarettes each day, for those who smoked.

During the spring follow up, the research team discovered that the frequency around smoking had increased proportionally with that of vaping. The more the respondents had vaped at the beginning of the year, the more they smoked traditional cigarettes during the follow up; which was only six months after the first survey.

Interestingly, as reported by Medical News Today, a mere 0.7% of those who had never used an e-cig turned into smokers and 0.9% of them turned into casual smokers. Of those who had used e-cigs in the past, a little over 4% turned into casual smokers, while a little over 3% frequently smoked. Of the infrequent vapers, 9% became infrequent smokers, while a little over 5% smoked more frequently. Lastly, just over 11% of frequent e-cig users turned into infrequent smokers and close to 20% of them became frequent smokers.

Additionally, of those who had never used e-cigs, just over 98% remained non-smokers after the follow up survey.

While some teens use e-cigs to help them stop smoking, the study did not record any links to vaping and reducing cigarette smoke.

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