Teens May Be Trying E-Cigarettes First

Electronic cigarettes tried first by US teenagers who had never smoked tobacco cigarettes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Urging teens not to smoke has long been a concern for many parents, health experts and educators. Now, there may be a new factor in the struggle: e-cigarettes.

In a new study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explored e-cig use among youth between 2011 and 2013.

During these years, the study authors found a big jump in the number of teens who had never smoked conventional cigarettes but had tried e-cigs.

"Talk to your kids about the dangers of all types of nicotine."

"Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is increasing rapidly and their impact on youth is unknown," explained the authors of this new study, led by Rebecca E. Bunnell, ScD, of the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Atlanta.

To examine how e-cigs might affect teens, Dr. Bunnell and colleagues looked at data from the 2011 to 2013 National Youth Tobacco Surveys, which focused on students in grades six through 12. The survey involved between 18,000 and 24,000 students across the country each year.

The researchers wanted to focus on kids who had never tried and had no intention to try conventional cigarettes. This group of students reported that they would not smoke if offered a cigarette by a friend and reported that they would definitely not smoke in the next year.

During the three years of the study, the researchers found a big jump in teens who had never smoked cigarettes but had used e-cigs. In 2011, Dr. Bunnell and team estimated that 79,000 students across the country fell into this category — a number which increased to 263,000 by 2013.

The researchers also found that teens who had used e-cigs were more likely to report an intention to smoke conventional cigarettes. Of those who had used e-cigs, 43.9 percent reported an intention to smoke cigarettes, compared to only 21.5 percent of teens who had never tried e-cigs.

The kids self-reported information on smoking history and intention to smoke, which presents a possibility for some error, the study authors noted.

Dr. Bunnell and team stressed a need for tobacco prevention efforts aimed at young people that urge against the use of all forms of tobacco.

The study was published online Aug. 20 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 26, 2014
Last Updated:
August 26, 2014