23 April 2019
Many teens who use e-cigarettes are often unaware of the amount of nicotine they ingest, a study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests.
The study, published online Monday, surveyed 500 teens between the ages of 12 and 21, asking about their use of tobacco, e-cigarettes and marijuana. Of that group, 265 offered a urine sample to track cotinine, a product formed in the body after nicotine use.
The study found 40 percent of participants who reported using products free of nicotine had levels of cotinine higher than the cut-off indicating nicotine use.
Also, participants using higher nicotine content devices like Juul had significantly higher levels of cotinine in their system, “comparable or even higher to what you see with kids who smoke cigarettes,” said Dr. Rachel Boykan, lead author of the study from the Department of Pediatrics at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University.
“As we are starting to see really an increase in usage of e-cigarettes, we really hadn’t defined very well the amount of nicotine kids were getting from them,” Boykan told USA TODAY.
Boykan said there are several factors contributing to why teens and even adults might be unaware of nicotine levels in e-cigarettes, including marketing that says they’re safer than cigarettes.
“We’re talking about kids getting addicted to nicotine and using these things because they perceive them as being safer than cigarettes, but these are kids that would not have been smoking in the first place,” said Boykan.