E-Cigarettes May Encourage Traditional Smoking Among Youth Says New Study


A new study released today by online journal, JAMA Pediatrics, revealed that the use of e-cigarettes may not discourage smoking traditional cigarettes in youth after all. In fact, researchers found that the use of e-cigarettes “may encourage conventional cigarette use among adolescents.”

The study was conducted by Stanton Glantz, Professor of Medicine at the University of California who has been a long-time critic of e-cigarettes and their claims to help users quit smoking. He believes that the results of the study show that the use of e-cigarettes is more likely to lead to less people quitting, not more.

Not all are convinced by the findings. Some experts believe that the results may have been interpreted incorrectly. They claim that the use of e-cigarettes in the study may be from youth who simply smoke more in general. They believe that it is not the devices that are the problem, but rather the people that are using them. These people may have trouble quitting, and that may be the reason they choose to use e-cigarettes in the first place. Researcher at the American Cancer Society, Thomas J. Glynn, states the conclusions in the study are very broad and the data may not necessarily indicate that the findings are accurate.

There has been much debate already as to whether e-cigarettes are a way to help people quit smoking or whether they are a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes. There are already an estimated 45 million smokers in the U.S., 3 million of whom are adolescents. The study’s findings are sure to create more debate as it is interpreted differently amongst experts.

A study that was released last year found that the majority of youth who smoke e-cigrettes still continue to smoke traditional cigarettes. The results were posted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and led many to question the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in the battle to reduce smoking in adolescents. On the contrary, it was also found that the use of e-cigarettes among youth doubled between 2011 and 2012, while cigarette smoking in youth had seen a significant decrease, hitting the lowest rate since 1997 at 9.6 percent in 2013.

The study published on JAMA Pediatrics also received criticism for following two separate groups of smokers instead of the progress of one. Some experts say that following one group is essential to truly seeing whether the e-cigarettes have a positive or negative effect on smoking habits. The study took data from a broad federal survey of 17,000 middle school and high school students in 2011 and compared it to results from a survey of 22,000 students in 2012.

Dr.Glantz claims that the results show that students who have experimented with traditional cigarettes and have also tried using e-cigarettes were more likely to become habitual smokers. On the other hand, Executive Director of the Schroeder National Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, David Abrams, disagrees. He compares the interpretation of the results by Dr. Glantz to the positive correlation between smoking and the use of nicotine gum, saying that just because there is a relationship between smoking and the use of these products does not necessarily mean that the products are gateways to smoking or encouraging people to smoke more.

By Lian Morrison
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JAMA Pediatrics
The New York Times
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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