Study finds e-cigarettes ineffective in kicking the habit

Leslie Hanson
January 12, 2018

UT Health SA's Eliminate Tobacco Use committee has been at the forefront of the university's policy changes and has been putting up new signs advertising its tobacco-free policy around campus since December.

Be aware that this study does not provide proof of causality.

E-cigarettes heat liquid containing nicotine, aromatics and other chemicals so users can inhale the generated vapor.

Adolescents who use these products, such as e-cigarettes, hookahs, non-cigarette combustible tobacco or smokeless tobacco, are more likely to start smoking cigarettes within a year, according to the new research.

"Some e-cigarette products are touted as being useful for smoking cessation, but we do not recommend that they be used for that objective", an official at the center said.

More than a dozen recent studies have linked teen use of electronic cigarettes and other non-cigarette tobacco products with cigarette smoking uptake, and UCSF researcher Shannon Lea Watkins, PhD, said the evidence that they raise the risk for adolescent smoking is now indisputable.

However, this study was the first to directly compare these products, as well as compare use of a single product to polyuse of noncigarette products.

The findings from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education suggest that the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes or "vaping" could reverse declining trends in overall teen smoking rates. Previous studies have demonstrated associations of use of individual products such as e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and hookahs with future cigarette smoking.

"These products are different in terms of how they are used and marketed, but as risk factors for youth smoking, they appear to be almost the same", he said.

At the beginning of the study period, the teens, ages 12-17, had not smoked a cigarette, and a year later, a majority of them were still not tobacco users. Mean age was 14.3; about half were female and half were white. They found non-users had a 26-percent higher chance of trying a tobacco product after watching online videos or using social networking sites to view tobacco products.

Cigarette ever use at follow-up ranged from 18.8% to 19.2% for youths who, at wave 1, had used e-cigarettes, hookah, non-cigarette combustible tobacco, or smokeless tobacco at baseline. This may have weakened some connections between cigarette smoking and other tobacco products, the authors note.

Among youth in the study who had tried more than one product at the start, 74 percent has used e-cigarettes and 65 percent had used a hookah.

"[It] is important to know whether use of these alternative products diverts youths from smoking conventional cigarettes or encourages smoking initiation", the researchers said in their JAMA Pediatrics study. Even though the odds of smoking were higher among youth who had tried other products, the number of smokers contributed by each of these groups was minuscule. That's because any tobacco use is harmful to the body, and the new study now draws a clear link to future cigarette smoking. Similar results were obtained for past 30-day cigarette use, and for both former and past 30-day use of each noncigarette tobacco product.

This prompted researchers to try to assess the impact vaping products have on teens and their future smoking habits.

"They can communicate to their children that they disapprove of all tobacco products because all of them carry significant risk for getting addicted and perhaps suffering adverse health consequences", Wills said by email.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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