Vaping (using e-cigarettes) while young makes you more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes later on according to recent research from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. This has significant implications for both public health policy and tobacco companies.
According to the study, adolescents and young adults (ages 14-30) who smoke e-cigarettes are at least three times as likely to smoke traditional cigarettes compared to their peers who haven’t tried e-cigarettes.
The reason for this may be that young adults become addicted to nicotine by using e-cigarettes, then transition to the “real” thing when they get older. The research also suggests that smoking e-cigarettes mimics smoking real cigarettes and creates habits that raise the chances of smoking cigarettes later on.
E-cigarettes are perceived as a healthier alternative to cigarettes. According to GlobalData’s 2016 Q4 global consumer survey 52% of consumers say that the health aspect of e-cigarettes appeals to them the most. E-cigarettes, however, have been seen primarily as a way for smokers of traditional cigarettes to transition to a healthier alternative. This research suggests that although smokers of traditional cigarettes might do well to smoke e-cigarettes, use of e-cigarettes among youth comes with risks.
Public health agencies which are stepping up the pressure on cigarettes through plain packaging and increasingly large health warnings will now have to take into consideration the impact of e-cigarettes on traditional cigarette smoking. This may include restricting e-cigarette advertisement campaigns and limiting available flavors. Both of these precautions have been taken with regular cigarettes to reduce cigarette usage – this research implies that they may have to be applied to e-cigarettes as well.