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Study Suggests E-Cigarettes Tied To Youth Smoking

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

Aired 3/6/14 on KPBS News.

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.

Comments

Avatar for user 're4s0n4'

re4s0n4 | March 7, 2014 at 8:40 a.m. ― 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I have a huge problem with the statement, "It appears as though the tobacco industry is targeting kids." Who is the tobacco industry in this case? China, where a lot of this low grade unregulated mystery E-liquid is being produced? This is a different problem altogether. If anything the "Tobacco Industry" is jumping on the bandwagon, with Blu eCigs. I think this is just a purposeful attempt of the opposition to create a narrative that will help pass opposing laws.

Additionally, this article is one sided and biased. It does not represent the device users that prefer the nicotine free versions of the e-liquid, those who like them for the oral fixation or are hobbyists, and will never be interested in nicotine.

I wouldn't disagree that more kids are using tobacco products, because of the gateway effect, but that is a far cry from a targeted maneuver from the "Tobacco Industry." In short, to say kids are being targeted is a stretch. Adult's like flavors too, and this argument is tired, juvenile, and a possible scare tactic to help facilitate the movement of the upcoming push for anti-eCig legislation.

Do we think "they" got in a room and conspired, and that is why we have e-cigs? Where is the memo proving this? Where is the evidence for this? Do I hear, Reefer Madness echoing in my ears?

"Their getting our kids, lets stop them!"

Thanks for listening, KPBS.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 7, 2014 at 9:05 a.m. ― 5 months, 4 weeks ago

"Do we think "they" got in a room and conspired, and that is why we have e-cigs?"

I don't know, but I'm sure they are in a back-room somewhere trying to figure out HOW to exploit the phenomenon of e-cigs into become a gateway for tobacco smokers.

Don't be so naive.

People getting hooked on smoking whilst in their teens or even younger are the bread and butter for the tobacco industry.

You don't think their highly paid marketing groups aren't working to find a way for them to convert young e-cig users into Marlboro and Camel smokers so they can make big money off the e-cig phenomenon??

You think they will sit back and do nothing as a product that could be direct competition proliferates??

Come on

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 7, 2014 at 10:58 a.m. ― 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I think a lack of parenting is tied to youth smoking.

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