Some people argue that teen vaping is not harmful, that it doesn’t lead to smoking tobacco, and in fact that it’s a great substitute for smoking and therefore a good way to prevent teens from developing the habit. But here are the telling statistics on the relationship between vaping and smoking that tell a different truth: if a teen vapes, he or she is much more likely to move on to smoking tobacco products than if he or she doesn’t vape. And that is not good!
A National Study Links Teen Vaping and Subsequent Smoking
In a national study funded by the NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse, teens were surveyed about their use of vaping and tobacco. The results showed that high school seniors who vaped but had never smoked cigarettes, were more than four times as likely to smoke tobacco within the next year as those who did not vape or smoke.
You might think that among those vaping teens, those who though smoking tobacco was dangerous would be less likely to end up smoking than those who didn’t think it was bad for one’s health. But not true: those who judged tobacco smoking dangerous were equally likely to go on to smoking tobacco within the year as those who thought smoking tobacco was relatively harmless to one’s health. In fact, survey data revealed that teens and young adults who originally believed that cigarette smoking was bad for their health, but then started vaping, changed their beliefs about the dangers of smoking tobacco over time. In other words, they didn’t seem to decide to smoke even though they knew it was dangerous to their health; rather, they started believing that smoking tobacco was not harmful.
Researchers Richard Miech, PhD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues concluded that the practice of vaping appeared to desensitize teens to the dangers of smoking. In other words, the use of e-cigarettes, says Dr. Miech, is a “one-way bridge” to the smoking of tobacco.
The NIH study provides the first national analysis of teen vaping and its relationship to subsequent smoking. Earlier studies found the same cause-and-effect relationship among smaller sample groups: a survey of 9th and 10th graders in Hawaii found a three-fold greater smoking risk among those who vaped than those who didn’t, and a University of Southern California study found that teens who used e-cigarettes were six times as likely to smoke by the time they reached early adulthood as those who did not vape.
An interesting additional finding of the national study was that 12th graders who had smoked in the past but had not recently smoked, were half as likely to be smoking a year later than those who had recently vaped.
Teens Also Do Not Use Vaping To Help Them Stop Smoking
There’s some evidence that e-cigarettes are being used by some adults as an aid to help them quit or cut down on smoking, but teens do not seem to be using e-cigarettes to help with smoking cessation.
The Conclusion? Teens’ Access to e-Cigarettes Should Be Restricted
Dr. Miech points to the overall results of the study as a strong argument for restricting teen’s access to vaping products. He points out that many teens think that vaping is a harmless practice, but believes that “if they were aware that it significantly increases their chances for developing a lifelong smoking habit, many would steer clear of e-cigarettes.”
Information for this article was obtained from MEDPAGE TODAY.