14 March 2018:
- A study by Dartmouth College found that 1.5 million years of life could be lost from e-cigarette use that leads to traditional cigarette use
- Previous research has shown people who start using e-cigarettes in adolescence are four times more likely to switch to tobacco cigarettes
- A quarter of adults who have tried to quit smoking have used e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes do more harm than good by acting as a ‘gateway drug’ leading teens to smoking, according to a new study.
The tobacco industry has been advertising electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes since they were first introduced in the early 2000s, but researchers at Dartmouth College estimate they could cost 1.5 million years of life.
The lead researcher told Daily Mail Online that about two in three e-cigarette users on to try traditional cigarettes, leading to long-term use for one in three users that shaves an average of 10 years off their lifespan.
The number of years gained by those who quit using e-cigarettes is far outweighed by the years lost from the third of young users who go on to become lifelong smokers, creating a self-fueling health crisis.
‘Although the tobacco industry markets e-cigarettes as a tool to help adult smokers quit smoking, e-cigarette use actually only marginally increases the number of adult cigarette smokers who are able to successfully quit,’ said the study’s lead author Samir Soneji, PhD, an associate professor at The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.
‘On the other hand, e-cigarettes may facilitate cigarette smoking initiation and confer substantial harm to adolescents and young adults once they are introduced to nicotine.’
The Dartmouth researchers pulled data from a variety of national surveys of health and tobacco use to calculate how many years of life are gained or lost from e-cigarette use.
The estimates came from data on current smokers who used the e-cigarettes to quit and never-smokers who switched to long-term use of traditional cigarettes after using e-cigarettes.
Studies show usage rates are highest among adolescents and young adults who are then four-times more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes than those who don’t vape.
On average, smoking from adolescence and young adulthood takes off 10 years off a person’s life.
On the other side, a person who was able to quit smoking with e-cigarettes would likely gain back about five years of their life.
The study found that even with the number of years gained from using e-cigarettes to stop smoking, a total of 1.5 million years of life could be lost as a result of use in the future.
Under-18s are almost three times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2016, more than two million US middle and high school students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days, including 4.3 percent of middle school students and 11.3 percent of high school students, compared with 3.2 percent of US adults.
The same CDC report found that only 2.2 percent of middle-schoolers and eight percent of high-schoolers had smoked traditional cigarettes in the past 30 days.
A 2017 study found that nearly a quarter of adult cigarette smokers used e-cigarettes to quit.
E-cigarettes are not an FDA-recommended quitting method, but they were found to be used more often than approved methods including the nicotine patch and nicotine gum.
However, the research showed that most of the who used e-cigarettes to quit did not switch entirely and were still smoking traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have been marketed as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because they produce vapor rather than smoke.
However, a growing body of research suggests that e-cigarette devices are not as ‘harm-free’ as manufacturers claim they are.
A study released Tuesday found that ‘heat not burn’ smokeless devices can release toxic chemicals when heated up to temperatures that are usually exceeded during use.
Another study published earlier this month revealed that teens who used e-cigarettes were exposed to the same cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco even when they didn’t use nicotine fluid.
After significant tobacco control efforts were implemented in the 1990s there was a substantial reduction in youth smoking, but the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes has the potential to slow or reverse that trend.
Soneji said one way to stop the rise in e-cigarette use among young people is to reduce the availability of ‘kid-friendly’ flavors.
He also said product standards are needed to reduce the levels of toxins in e-cigarette fluid.
‘E-cigarettes will likely cause more public health harm than public health benefit unless ways can be found to substantially decrease the number of adolescents and young adults who vape and increase the number of smokers who use e-cigarettes to successfully quit smoking,’ Soneji said.
Source: Daily Mail