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Students Who Use E-Cigarettes More Likely to Try Conventional Cigarettes

If you thought e-cigarettes are a good product for preventing young people from becoming smokers of regular cigarettes, think again. A new research paper looking at data from 2,836 adolescents in Great Britain shows that nonsmoking adolescents who use e-cigarettes first are more likely to try conventional cigarettes later, the BMJ reports. The paper adds to previous studies that showed e-cigarette use can lead to smoking regular cigarettes.

One reason new studies on e-cigs are ongoing is because the number of middle schoolers and high school students taking up e-cigarettes is rising precipitously, even as the number of people smoking traditional cigarettes declines. In the U.S., from 2011 to 2015, the use of e-cigarettes (vaping) in middle school rose from 0.6 percent of students to 5.3 percent. At the same time, the use of traditional cigarettes declined from 4.3 percent to 2.3 percent among students.

But as the rate of combustible cigarette smoking declines, especially in the younger age group most important to sales in the tobacco industry, marketing is moving to promoting e-cigarettes under the auspices of being a “healthier” choice. Tobacco companies know it’s hard to stop smoking, so their motives are to save their industry in any way they can by simply reframing the sales pitch to a “safe” and “healthy” alternative, which of course they also make.

What you define as healthy, however, is up for debate, as while e-cigarettes are promoted as safer than regular cigarettes, they still contain addictive nicotine — a powerful poison linked to a number of different health conditions. E-cigarettes also contain flavorings designed to make you want more. For instance, diacetyl is an artificial flavor used for adding a buttery taste to microwave popcorn. It has been linked to respiratory damage, including inflammation and permanent scarring of the airways, dubbed "popcorn lung," in workers at a microwave popcorn plant.
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