The debate about e-cigarettes and the relationship to tobacco products has moved up a notch following a new study about teen vapers in the U.S. The study shows a link to tobacco products.
Vaping (the use of electronic cigarettes) is seen by many, including those who market the products, as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products (e-cigarettes contain the addictive chemical nicotine but no known carcinogens.) However, the arguments used by the main manufactures (many of them tobacco companies that have diversified) relates to how the product is used to wean people away from traditional tobacco product, as a step to giving up smoking anything at all. For this reason, in parts of the U.K., electronic cigarettes have medicinal status and can be prescribed by a medical doctor to a patient in a quest to give up smoking.
There is other evidence, such as from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that suggests the marketing of e-cigarettes, especially the types infused with flavors like bubblegum, are designed to appeal to young people who have never smoked before.
This tendency has been picked up in a new study that suggests that vaping may encourage tobacco smoking by teens (traditional cigarettes or the use of a hookah) who would have seemed the least likely to take up the habit.
The concern here is that the e-cigarettes are a stepping stone to tobacco products. There are also concerns that the chemicals in e-cigarettes and the long-term effects on the human body is unknown (this is an issue raised by the World Health Organization.)
The new study comes from Dr. Thomas Wills, of the University of Hawaii Cancer Center in Honolulu. Wills told Science News: " All the information that’s come out in the past few months suggests that there is a risk associated with e-cigarette use."
The study was based on a review of 2,200 children (in the 9th and 10th grades.) Information was gathered about e-cigarette and traditional cigarette use. Those who vaped were three times more likely that those who had never vaped to take up the smoking of tobacco products.
The study also included a personality assessment. Those teens who considered themselves to be, or who displayed characteristics of, rebelliousness, were most likely to make the transition over from e-cigarettes to tobacco products.
The research is published in the journal Tobacco Control. The paper is headed "Longitudinal study of e-cigarette use and onset of cigarette smoking among high school students in Hawaii."