E-cigs are especially popular among young people for being cool and cheaper than cigarettes, and reportedly posing fewer health risks to users than the real thing does. Adults switch to e-cigs as a means to quit smoking.
But a group of researchers say that e-cigarettes may entice teens to take up smoking or at least try out cigarettes.
“This is the question people are asking: Are e-cigarettes helpful for people as a gateway out of cigarette smoking, or might they also be a gateway in?,”
noted Brian A. Primack, head of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health, who was partially involved in the study.
Researchers reported that of the 694 teens and young adults they monitored during their investigation 16 were e-cigarette users when the research began. Of those 16 volunteers, 11 took up smoking after the research was over, which represents 69 percent of the group.
The study also revealed that of the remaining participants, who were not users of the electronic devices, only 128 (19 percent) became cigarette smokers at the end of the study.
From the results, researchers concluded that e-cigarettes increase the risk of teens and young adults to become active smokers in their adulthood. Researchers noted that teens are more likely to use e-cigarettes because the devices are less demonized than traditional cigarettes in the media.
Additionally, e-cigs are promoted as ‘safe’ and cool gadgets that can be plugged into your other computer’s USB ports. The lights and delicious flavors are also attracting adolescents like a magnet. Yet, researchers believe that e-cigs are just a first stage of the transition to cigarettes.
Study critics said that it is less likely for people to switch from the electronic devices that produce thick but odorless vapors to ill-smelling tobacco products that not only give you a bad breath but they also spell certain doom for your health.
Nevertheless, study authors argued that the apparently harmless devices help teens get used to nicotine, so it is not hard for them to switch to conventional cigarettes later on.
The study, however, was received with criticism. Critics argued that study authors are just trying to find arguments for tighter regulations. They also said that there is no compelling evidence that e-cigs are a gateway to smoking or that they are as addictive as cigarettes are.
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