Study finds e-cigarettes ineffective in kicking the habit

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"If our overall goal is to reduce cigarette use and the burden of disease from tobacco, we have to recognize that these products are encouraging young people to move on to cigarette use", Watkins told MedPage Today.

Despite the large size of the study population, one limitation is the relatively small number of tobacco product users by year end, particularly the 2 percent of youth who admitted sampling one or more of these items in the past month. Additionally, use of multiple products was associated with a higher likelihood of initiation of cigarette use than use of a single product.

Teenagers who use e-cigarette tobacco products are twice as likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes, compared to those who have never used such a device, a new study shows.

"Cigarette "ever" use is a meaningful outcome given that nicotine dependence can manifest in adolescents soon after their first puff, but other smoking milestones, such as daily smoking, can take years to develop", the report said. This may have weakened some connections between cigarette smoking and other tobacco products, the authors note.

"Any use of all forms of non-cigarette tobacco was independently associated with greater risk of future cigarette smoking", the JAMA study authors concluded. Another federally funded study from the University of California, San Francisco, claims that "Nonsmoking adolescents who use e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or tobacco water pipes are more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes within a year".

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The study, which has been published in JAMA Pediatrics, details the findings of a national survey of 10,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 from across the United States who indicated they have never smoked cigarettes. When re-interviewed one year later, 4.6 percent of the group reported that they had now smoked a cigarette.

They added that the study has direct implications for regulatory policy aimed at preventing youth smoking. Similar results were obtained for past 30-day cigarette use, and for both former and past 30-day use of each noncigarette tobacco product.

Smoking cessation researcher Scott McIntosh, PhD, of University of Rochester Medical Center, New York, told MedPage Today that the data examining the usefulness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation are mixed.

"They can communicate to their children that they disapprove of all tobacco products because all of them carry significant risk for getting addicted and perhaps suffering adverse health consequences", Wills said by email.

"It's not surprising that products like e-cigarettes and cigars have become popular with kids when they are sold in sweet flavors like gummy bear and cherry dynamite", said Vince Willmore, vice president of communications for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which was not involved in the research.

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