Study: Increased use of e-cigarettes among teens has troubling implications
Research from the University of Southern California shows e-cigarette use among teens is on the rise, and suggests the trend could result in a reversal of the progress made towards tobacco control.
In a 2011 national survey of high school students, only 1.5 percent said they had used a liquid vaporizing device in the past month.
The same question in 2015 yielded affirmative responses among 16 percent of teen participants.
In focusing solely on juniors and seniors in Southern California, the USC team found similar spikes.
According to a press release issued by the university, "In 2014, about 14 percent of 12th-graders said they had either smoked or vaped in the previous 30 days. A decade earlier — before e-cigarettes were sold in the United States — 9 percent of surveyed teens in this age group reported that they had smoked."
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Lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis expressed concern, noting, "If teenagers who vape are using e-cigarettes instead of cigarettes, we would have expected to see the decline in smoking rates continue through 2014...But what we've seen is a downward trend in cigarette use from 1995 to 2004 but no further decrease in cigarette smoking rates in 2014. The combined e-cigarette and cigarette use in 2014 far exceeded what we would have expected if teens were simply substituting cigarettes with e-cigarettes. The data suggest that at least some of the teens who are vaping would not have smoked cigarettes."
An earlier study found that young e-cigarette users are upwards of 6 times more likely to switch to the traditional, combustible sort.
While adults who make the opposite move often benefit from the change, the team points out that teens who start with the electronic option may simply be courting a future nicotine addiction.