Teenagers Using E-Cigarettes More Likely to Become Users of Combustible Tobacco: US Study

A recent study conducted by Adam Leventhal from Keck Medical School of the University of Southern California and his team, reported that teenagers using e-cigarettes are more likely to become users of combustible tobacco.

E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are devices that can give a feeling of smoking by delivering nicotine-containing aerosol (which is a heated combination of propylene glycol, water and glycerin). While these devices are assumed to be less harmful than conventional smoking, this study revealed that the users of e-cigarettes are more likely to switch to traditional smoking options such as hookah, cigarettes and cigars.

Teenager E-Cigarette

The study involved tracking 2,530 high school children (9th graders) from ten public schools in Los Angeles who never used combustible tobacco initially, when the study started in 2013. The follow-up assessments were done after six months (spring 2014) and again after 12 months (autumn 2014). At each of these assessments, some students admitted switching to combustible tobacco in the self-assessed surveys.

The numbers were as follows: Out of 222 students who were using e-cigarettes initially, at the 6-month assessment, 31% reported use of traditional smoking options as against 8% of students who were not on e-cigarettes at the start of the study. At the 12-month assessment stage, 25% of e-cigarette users reported starting off on tobacco-based smoking as against 9% of e-cigarette non-users.

These outcomes proved that using e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ increases the risk of starting off on combustible tobacco use during adolescence which in turn could lead to smoking related health risks which could reach epidemic levels, warned the report. While this study does not have any conclusive evidence linking vaping to traditional tobacco use, it definitely throws light on the increased possibility of such a situation.


Many experts opined that 14-year-old children need not use any product. Hence, this study reiterates the need for appropriate action that protects young children and decreases the demand for e-cigarettes, commented Dr Nancy Rigotti from Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, opined that this study reiterates the fact that we need to be vigilant of teen smoking patterns considering its ill-effects and addictive capabilities.

An interesting statistic regarding smoking is that e-cigarettes’ usage among American adolescents increased to 13.4% in 2014 from 4.5% in 2013, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same period traditional cigarette usage decreased from 12.7% to 9.2%.