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Study Suggests E-Cigarettes Tied To Youth Smoking

Photo caption:

Photo by Michael Dorausch / Flickr

A woman exhales nicotine vapor from an e-cigarette in this undated photo.

E-cigarettes are marketed as devices that can help people quit smoking. But a new study suggests they’re actually a gateway to nicotine addiction for teenagers.

E-cigarettes are marketed as devices that can help people quit smoking. But a new study suggests they’re actually a gateway to nicotine addiction for teenagers.

The UC San Francisco study is the first to analyze the relationship between smoking and e-cigarette use among American teenagers.

The study is based on recent surveys on the smoking habits of 40,000 American middle- and high-school students.

Researchers found kids who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke conventional cigarettes, and less likely to quit smoking. Teens who used the devices also tended to smoke more regular cigarettes.

Lauren Dutra, a postdoctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Research and Education, is the study’s lead author.

"It looks like e-cigarette use is not discouraging tobacco smoking, at least among adolescents," Dutra explained. "And we think that it may be encouraging smoking.”

Dutra’s study also found e-cigarette use among teens doubled between 2011 and 2012.

Dr. Thomas Novotny, with San Diego State’s Graduate School of Public Health, thinks these products are designed to hook kids on smoking.

"It appears as though the tobacco industry is targeting kids," Novotny said. "I mean, they’re making these things in flavors like bubble gum and Skittles, and whatever else. And it’s really cynical to think that this isn’t something that kids are going to experiment with."

The FDA has yet to issue regulations on e-cigarettes. In the meantime, Carlsbad, Vista, Long Beach and Los Angeles have passed their own restrictions.

San Diego is considering a similar move.

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