Science

Health: Young people who vape are three times as likely to become daily cigarette smokers

Taking up vaping increases the likelihood that young people will end up smoking traditional cigarettes daily by three fold, a study has warned. 

US researchers studied data on the evolving tobacco product use more than 49,000 young people aged between 12–24 over four years.

The team found that — among those who experimented with tobacco usage — the number of daily users increased with age through to 28 years old.

In fact, the percentage of daily cigarette smokers nearly doubled between 18–21 year olds (at 12 per cent) and 25–28 year olds (at 21 per cent.)

Experimenting with tobacco at a younger age and trying out multiple products — cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc. — increases the risk of addition, the researchers said.  

Taking up vaping increases the likelihood that young people will end up smoking traditional cigarettes daily by three fold, a study has warned. Pictured, a teenage boy vaping

‘E-cigarettes are a gateway for those who become daily cigarette smokers,’ said paper author and oncologist John Pierce of the University of California San Diego.

‘The start product has changed from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, but the end product has stayed the same.’

‘When users become dependent on nicotine, they are converting to cigarette smoking,’ he added.

In their study, Professor Pierce and colleagues analysed data collected by the so-called Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, which recruited more than 49,000 12–24-year-olds in the US between 2013–2014.

Each participant was interview annually over four years to explore how used of different tobacco products might progress from experimentation to daily use.

In the first year of the study, 45 per cent of those polled reported having used at least one tobacco product in their lifetime — a figure that increased to 62 per cent by the fourth year of the annual surveys.

Of those participants who experimented with tobacco, 73 per cent reported trying cigarettes and 72 per cent tried vaping.

Meanwhile, more than half said that they had experimented with cigarillos or hookahs — while just over ten per cent tried pipes, traditional or filtered cigars and smokeless products like chewing tobacco or snus.

The team found that only one per cent of those who experimented with a single tobacco product progressed to smoking cigarettes daily — but this figure rose to 15 per cent among those who tried out five or more different forms of tobacco.

By the four year of the study, 12 per cent of those polled were using tobacco products daily — with half having becoming daily users after the first year.

Of these, 70 per cent smoked cigarettes daily — with the majority, at 63 per cent, using cigarettes exclusively, while half of those who smoked cigarettes along using another tobacco product vaped e-cigarettes on a non-daily basis.

In the first year of the study, 45 per cent of those polled reported having used at least one tobacco product in their lifetime — a figure that increased to 62 per cent by the fourth year of the annual surveys. Pictured, a young man smokes a cigarette

In the first year of the study, 45 per cent of those polled reported having used at least one tobacco product in their lifetime — a figure that increased to 62 per cent by the fourth year of the annual surveys. Pictured, a young man smokes a cigarette

The team found that, of the 17 per cent of daily tobacco users in the study who were vaping on a daily basis, nearly half were also non-daily cigarette smokers.

Further research will be needed, to determine whether these young daily smokers will continue to partake in both traditional and electronic cigarettes, or whether they will ultimately settle on one single product, Professor Pierce said.

‘What we’re seeing is that the proportion who are daily e-cigarette users did not increase with age — whereas with cigarettes the number of users jumps up rapidly with age,’ he added. 

‘This rapid increase with age only occurred with cigarettes, not with any other tobacco products.’

‘Trying e-cigarettes and multiple other tobacco products before the age of 18 is also strongly associated with becoming daily cigarette smoking,’ said paper author and oncologist Karen Messer, also of the University of California San Diego.

‘We know that e-cigarette use among [US] high school seniors, most under the age of 18, increased from 38 per cent in 2016 to 45 per cent in 2019.’

‘These results suggest that recent rapid growth in adolescent e-cigarette use will lead to increased daily cigarette smoking among young adults in the United States, reversing decades of decline in cigarette smoking.’ 

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Pediatrics.

What is an e-cigarette and how is it different to smoking tobacco?

An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a device that allows users to inhale nicotine by heating a vapour from a solution that contain nicotine, propylene and flavourings.

As there is no burning involved, there is no smoke like a traditional cigarette.

But while they have been branded as carrying a lower risk than cigarettes, an increasing swell of studies is showing health dangers.

E-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, but the vapor does contain some harmful chemicals.

Nicotine is the highly addictive chemical which makes it difficult for smokers to quit.  

Nearly three million people in Britain use e-cigarettes, and more than nine million Americans.

TYPES:

1. Standard e-cigarette

Battery-powered device containing nicotine e-liquid.

It vaporizes flavored nicotine liquid.

2. Juul

Very similar to normal e-cigarettes but with sleeker design and a higher concentration of nicotine.

Thanks to its ‘nicotine salts’, manufacturers claim one pod delivers the amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.

It is composed of an e-cigarette (battery and temperature control), and a pod of e-liquid which is inserted at the end.

The liquid contains nicotine, chemicals and flavorings.

Like other vaping devices, it vaporizes the e-liquid.

3. IQOS by Philip Morris

Pen-shaped, charged like an iPod.

Vaporizes tobacco.

It is known as a ‘heat not burn’ smokeless device, heating tobacco but not burning it (at 350C compared to 600C as normal cigarettes do).

The company claims this method lowers users’ exposure to carcinogen from burning tobacco.


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