E-Cigarette Use Among Teens Doubled in One Year

Smoking risk among adolescents increased with electronic cigarette use

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

(RxWiki News) Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have been touted recently as an aid to stop smoking, but one new study suggests that e-cigarettes might lead young folks to smoke the real thing.

This new study found a strong link between trying e-cigarettes and current use of regular cigarettes among teens.

According to the researchers, e-cigarettes are available in flavors like strawberry and chocolate that are illegal in regular cigarettes because of their appeal to youth.

"Talk to your kids about the dangers of smoking."

This study was led by Lauren M. Dutra, ScD, and Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, of the Center for Tobacco Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.

These researchers looked at survey data from 39,882 middle and high school students who completed the National Youth Tobacco Survey in 2011 and 2012. The National Youth Tobacco Survey was created to aid national and state tobacco prevention and control programs.

The survey revealed that the amount of adolescents who had tried e-cigarettes at least once rose from 3.1 percent in 2011 to 6.5 percent in 2012.

This research also showed that 1.1 percent of teens were regular users of e-cigarettes in 2011, while 2.6 percent were currently using them in 2012.

The researchers wrote that having ever used e-cigarettes or currently using them was associated with an increase in experimenting with conventional cigarettes. 

The research team defined “ever smoking” as consuming at least 100 cigarettes in a lifetime, and “currently using” was defined as consuming 100 cigarettes or more and smoking within the last 30 days.

The study revealed that cigarette smokers in 2011 who had ever used e-cigarettes were more likely to intend to quit smoking within the next year. However, e-cigarettes were associated with lower abstinence from cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes deliver a heated aerosol of nicotine, mimicking regular cigarettes, and are available in flavors such as strawberry and chocolate, which are banned in conventional cigarettes because they appeal to young people.

The authors of this study concluded that e-cigarettes are not discouraging the use of regular cigarettes in adolescents, and among experimenters, cigarettes are associated with established cigarette smoking and lower rates of abstinence.

This study was limited by the inability to know if participants started smoking e-cigarettes and moved to normal cigarettes or visa versa.

This study was published March 6 in JAMA Pediatrics.

This study was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute.

The authors reported no disclosures.

Review Date: 
March 5, 2014
Last Updated:
March 6, 2014