Although e-cigs were initially marketed as a smoking cessation aid, a new study indicates that vaping is influencing greater numbers of young people to smoke tobacco cigarettes. This is especially concerning to public health experts since youth smoking rates have been declining steadily since 2010—and are currently at record lows.

About the Study
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences conducted the first nationally representative survey of the effects of vaping on cigarette smoking in people ages 18 to 30 years old. They found that participants who used e-cigarettes were four times more likely to begin smoking tobacco cigarettes within 18 months as their peers who did not vape. An astonishing 47.7% had started smoking tobacco cigarettes by the end of the study, compared to just 11.2% of participants who did not use e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study.

Participants were randomly selected in March 2013 with follow-up surveys conducted in October 2014. The study was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, and results were published in the December issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Possible Reasons for Findings
Despite the fact that more research is necessary to better understand why e-cigarettes increase the risk of someone beginning to smoke tobacco cigarettes, researchers have noted a few factors they believe are likely at play. This includes the similarity in the experience of vaping compared to smoking, vaping serving as a gentle introduction to harsher tobacco products, and a gradual development of tolerance for nicotine that could leave young people seeking out tobacco cigarettes to increase their consumption.

Supporting Studies
A study published online December 4, 2017 in the journal Pediatrics was conducted by researchers from the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. This study found similar conclusions when it looked at 800 high schoolers from three public schools in Connecticut. Students were surveyed in 2013, 2014 and 2015, with the study concluding that vaping made teens seven times more likely to use tobacco cigarettes in the future.

Nicotine as a Gateway Drug
Studies indicating that vaping may increase the risk of tobacco smoking are concerning to addiction treatment professionals because the use of cigarettes raises the risk of subsequent use of alcohol and illicit drugs like marijuana and cocaine. If you are a parent concerned about your teen or young adult’s substance misuse patterns, call a Boca Detox specialist to request admission to our Florida medical detox facility. To speak with an admissions counselor or verify insurance now, call 561.271.7612.