Study: Vaping can lead teens to cigarette smoking

Study: Vaping can lead teens to cigarette smoking
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A major national study on electronic cigarettes reportedly finds evidence that vaping can lead to nicotine addiction and may prompt teenagers to switch to cigarette smoking.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released their report on Tuesday, concluding that e-cigarettes, while safer than traditional cigarettes and a useful tool for helping people quit smoking, are not necessarily “safe” for use, and in fact put teens at higher risk of trying cigarettes, according to The New York Times.

The National Academies study is the most comprehensive review of research on e-cigarettes to date.

Anti-smoking advocates have long argued that e-cigarettes are dangerous because of the potential to turn teens and even young children onto nicotine by luring them with kid-friendly flavors. While the report found evidence that vaping may prompt teenagers to try cigarettes, it did not find any significant existing links between use of e-cigarettes and long-term smoking addiction.

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A CDC study found in 2016 that among e-cigarette users ages 18 to 24, 40 percent had never smoked a cigarette before taking up vaping. The study found that the majority of e-cigarette users overall also smoked cigarettes.

David Eaton from the University of Washington, who led the analysis committee, said there is still much to be learned about the long-term effects of vaping on health.

“When it got down to answering the questions about what the impacts on health are, there is still a lot to be learned,” he said. “E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful.”

Mitch Zeller, the head of the FDA’s tobacco division, said the report was commissioned in 2016, after the agency was granted the authority to regulate electronic smoking devices to learn more about where continued research was needed. He told the Times that the study’s findings will have an impact on how the agency regulates e-cigarette use.

“For kids who initiate on e-cigarettes, there’s a great chance of intensive use of cigarettes,” he said. “As the regulator, we’ve got to factor all that in.”