More Florida teens using
By Jill Pease
Electronic cigarette use is rising among adolescents, say UF researchers, who found that 12 percent of Florida high school students reported trying e-cigarettes, up from 8 percent the previous year.
The research team also found that teens who used e-cigarettes were more likely to use other tobacco products, including traditional cigarettes and hookah. The findings are troubling because they indicate that e-cigarettes may be serving as an introduction to smoking for a group who may have never started, said lead investigator Tracey Barnett, Ph.D., an assistant professor of behavioral science and community health in the College of Public Health and Health Professions.
“We had been making good strides in preventing tobacco use in adolescents,” she said. “The concern is we don’t want a whole new generation of users.”
The study findings were recently published online ahead of print in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
While other studies have shown a connection between e-cigarette and cigarette use in young people, the UF study, which was conducted in collaboration with the Florida Department of Health, is the first to show that e-cigarette smoking is strongly associated with hookah use.
“This is important because both e-cigarettes and hookah are appealing to adolescents and have fewer policy restrictions in place regarding flavors and public smoking, which could lead to re-normalizing smoking for youth,” Barnett said.
Some experts see the potential for e-cigarettes, which produce a nicotine vapor that users inhale, as a smoking cessation device for long-term smokers. But it is unlikely that teens would be using them for that purpose, Barnett said.
“Even if scientific findings eventually show that e-cigarettes help the majority of adults who use them to quit smoking, which still has not been found, this wouldn’t be the reason for the uptick in use of e-cigarettes by youth,” she said.