Could e-cigarettes serve as a “gateway drug,” making teens more likely to use cigarettes?
That’s what a study released recently by the Journal Pediatrics
suggests, finding that adolescents who “vape” are six times as likely to try regular cigarettes when they become young adults than their peers who do not vape. The study results found that health official have good reason to fear the rise in the use of vaping devices among teens.
This study was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California. The study followed the use of cigarettes and e-cigarettes of close to 6,000 California teens over the past two decades starting back from 1995.
The national high school study found a rise in young vapers with 17% of US 12th-grade students report using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. The researchers were looking at teen’s willingness to try new experiences. The results revealed that 31% of the students had tried an e-cigarette at least once. All of these students were more likely to give regular cigarettes a try compared to their classmates who had never used electronic cigarettes.
These numbers show that rather than helping teens wean themselves off of cigarettes, e-cigarettes can actually can promote them to use cigarettes or maybe even other drugs.
“This is how it is with the adolescent culture of drug use,” said Jon Daily, a drug addiction specialist with Recovery Happens Counseling Services. “They’re always creating something new that is under the radar. New terms, new slang, new ways of using it.”
California has already began to take the necessary precautions. Gov. Jerry Brown approved a sweeping package of tobacco bills into California including one that has recently went into effect this past June which raised the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21 and another that dramatically tightens restrictions on e-cigarettes. California became just the second state after Hawaii to raise the lawful age to buy tobacco products, a move that will help prevent harm to adolescents, and reduce the number of adult smokers.
For parents who are in need of support to help stop their kids from vaping, using e-cigarettes, or smoking can contact the National Addiction Hotline