Teenagers who use electronic cigarettes are six times more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes have exploded onto the market with millions of users worldwide. E-cigarette manufacturers and even anti-tobacco groups claim that these devices are almost harmless and that e-cigarettes help people quit smoking [1].

But the emerging evidence is contrary. In the United States of America, a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that teenagers who vaped e-cigarettes were six times more likely to take up smoking tobacco cigarettes [2]. Most e-cigarettes contain the highly addictive nicotine, as do tobacco cigarettes, so the transition from electronic to tobacco cigarettes is not surprising [3].

The destructive health effects of smoking have been firmly established for many years so anything that pushes teenagers toward smoking should be discouraged. Tobacco companies have deliberately targeted teenagers and children, especially pushing marketing near schools since at least the 1970s. They have their own studies showing that if they can catch a child in his or her pre-teen or teenage years, they will most likely have a customer for life [4].

The survey reported in Pediatrics found that 24 per cent of teenagers (mean age 17) had tried electronic cigarettes [2]. An earlier survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States highlights that e-cigarette use tripled among school children from 2011 to 2014 [5]. The Pediatrics study indicates that the upward trend is continuing: more and more school children are taking to electronic cigarettes. The use of e-cigarettes is skyrocketing in the US and around the world among children and teenagers – e-cigarettes are now mostly owned by tobacco companies: a new generation of smokers is being created.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to commence regulation of electronic cigarette marketing and manufacturing from August 2016 [6], determining that e-cigarettes meet the definition of a “tobacco product” and are therefore subject to the control of the FDA’s tobacco control authorities. This means e-cigarette manufacturers will have declare the contents of their e-cigarette and are banned from using risk descriptors such as ‘light’ or ‘mild’. The FDA’s primary concern is the exponential increase in uptake of e-cigarettes among youth as it quotes from the CDC study [5]: “between 2011 and 2014, past 30 day e-cigarette use among high school students increased nearly 800 percent from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 13.4 percent in 2014”. As this increase is also fuelling a six times higher uptake of tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes, along with tobacco smoking products, need to be banned, not just in the US but worldwide.



[1] Alleged ‘benefits’ of e-cigarettes: http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf

[2] E-cigarette users six times more likely to smoke tobacco: Barrington-Trimis, Jessica L. et al. “E-Cigarettes and Future Cigarette Use”, Pediatrics, July 2016, VOLUME 138 / ISSUE 1, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/1/e20160379

[3] WNTC news: http://wnct.com/2016/06/20/study-teens-using-e-cigs-are-more-likely-to-smoke-traditional-cigarettes/

[4] Hilts, Philipp J. (1996), Smokescreen: the truth behind the tobacco industry cover-up, Addison Wesley.

[5] Centers for Disease Prevention and Control: Arrazola, R.A., Singh, T., Corey, C.G. et al., “Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School Students—United States, 2011-2014,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 64(14);381-385, April 17, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6414a3.htm.

[6] FDA Ruling on e-cigarettes: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/10/2016-10685/deeming-tobacco-products-to-be-subject-to-the-federal-food-drug-and-cosmetic-act-as-amended-by-the

Published in the categories Smoking, Health