Teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking regular cigarettes than peers who never vaped. The popularity of vaping among young people is enhanced because they perceive it to be less dangerous than smoking.
Those conclusions are reported in two studies published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. This research adds to a growing body of evidence that even though e-cigarettes are being promoted as an alternative to help adults stop smoking, these products have the opposite effect on many teens who started smoking only after they started vaping.
In “E-cigarette Use and Subsequent Smoking Frequency Among Adolescents,” researchers from Yale University and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, conclude: “Tobacco control policy to reduce adolescent use of both e-cigarettes and cigarettes is needed to prevent progression to more frequent tobacco use patterns and reduce combustible cigarette use (with or without concurrent e-cigarette use) to lessen the adverse public health impact of e-cigarettes.”
“Because e-cigarettes are used by at least some youth who likely would not ever have begun smoking without having been exposed to e-cigarettes, the potential negative impact of e-cigarettes on the health of youth via the effect of e-cigarettes on smoking uptake is concerning,” said the researchers who used three separate surveys involving thousands of high school students.
In “Tobacco Product Harm Perceptions and New Use,” a group of researchers from the University of Vermont, Ohio State University, Georgetown University Medical Center and Southern Illinois University reported that youth perceived the greatest harm in smoking cigarettes, less in other tobacco products and least harm in e-cigarettes, which also contain nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco products. Teens and young adults surveyed who perceived “low harm” in e-cigarettes were more likely to start using e-cigarettes within a year of the first survey in this nationally representative study.
“Findings from this study suggest that advertising or other messages that effectively lower harm perceptions of noncigarette products may induce new use of those products in youth,” the report said. “The FDA will need to ensure that public education efforts and reduced risk or reduced exposure messages for nicotine and tobacco products do not inadvertently promote new product use in young people.”
On Tuesday’s ballot, Montana voters have the opportunity to reduce vaping, smoking and chewing — especially among our youth. I-185 would prevent and discourage youth from using e-cigarettes and tobacco in two ways: First, by making those products more expensive. Higher taxes on cigarettes have been shown to reduce youth smoking. Second, I-185 will increase funds available for tobacco and vaping prevention to keep kids from ever starting to use these unhealthy products.
State Sen. Mary Caferro, of Helena, a strong proponent of Initiative 185, recently summed up her concerns for the health Montana’s children: “Nearly a quarter of Montana’s kids use e-cigarettes, compared to 4 percent of adults. These products need to be recognized for the dangers they present and taxed accordingly, along with other tobacco products.”
There are many good reasons to support I-185. For the health and future of Montana, none are more important than keeping our kids tobacco-free and vape-free.