E-cigarette use has risen among teens since the product was introduced to the United States in 2007. Now, e- cigarette use exceeds the rate of cigarette smoking amongst young adults.
As e-cigarettes are fairly new to the market, extensive research has not been conducted to determine the long- term health and environmental impact. However, a new study from Dartmouth College shows that the potential harm of e-cigarettes should be taken very seriously.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, focused on the question: Does e-cigarette use increase the risk of future cigarette smoking among youth? The results showed evidence of greater risk between initial e-cigarette use and subsequent cigarette smoking initiation.
The study did not address why e-cigarette use increases risk of transitioning to cigarettes, but the reason could be that e-cigarettes mimic smoking behavior through similar hand-to-mouth movements, or puffing and exhalation. E-cigarette aerosol also contains nicotine and use of these devices could enhance exposure and eventual addiction.
“The finding is very consistent across studies. That along with the strength of the association makes it probable that e-cigarette use is one cause of cigarette smoking,” said James Sargent, a co-author of the study, in a news article. “E-cigarette use could affect population trends in youth smoking if use becomes more common, and that is the big public health concern.”
Future studies plan to continue to evaluate the risk posed by e-cigarette use for cigarette smoking with newer generations of cigarettes.