E-cigarette Access Linked to Other Risky Behavior in Teens
Image: Michael Appleton, The New York Times
A new study published in BMC Public Health found that e-cigarette access may be linked to drinking and other risky behaviors.
What are E-cigarettes?
E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, are rapidly growing in popularity among teens. Marketed as a safer alternative to traditional smoking, tobacco is delivered through an electronic vaporizer the size of a pen. The device is easy to conceal, and emits a smokeless vapor. Although less harmful for the lungs than traditional cigarettes, research on the health effects of e-cigarettes is limited to date, while the health consequences of nicotine use are well documented. E-cigarettes are addictive, and use of nicotine harms the developing brain.
The candy colored and flavored e-cigarettes offer an appealing and less regulated alternative to traditional cigarettes and cigars. Although it is illegal for teens under the age of 18 to purchase e-cigarettes in California, many turn to friends or the internet to purchase “vaping” supplies. With kits starting at $40, e-cigarettes are easily accessible. The compact size of these devices allows users to conceal them easily.
E-cigarettes part of a pattern of risky behavior
The Center For Public Health in Liverpool conducted the study, interviewing 16,193 students between the ages of 14 and 17. Participants were asked questions about their use of traditional cigarettes and cigars, e-cigarettes, alcohol, and other risky and illegal behaviors. Of observed participants, males and teens with a parent or guardian who smoked were more likely to use e-cigarettes.
The study found that access to e-cigarettes predicted alcohol use and other risky behaviors. Of study participants, one in five teens reported access to e-cigarettes, a finding consistent with studies performed in the United States. Teens who participated in the study who drank weekly and binge drank were more likely to have access to e-cigarettes. Teens with access to e-cigarettes are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, “e-cigarette access was related to: drinking to get drunk, alcohol-related violence, consumption of spirits; self-purchase of alcohol from shops or supermarkets; and accessing alcohol by recruiting adult proxy purchasers outside shops.” Many of the teens that had not smoked a traditional cigarette before using e-cigarettes began smoking traditional cigarettes after vaping.
Underage access of e-cigarettes may indicate a teen is engaging in other risky and illegal behaviors. Use of e-cigarettes may be part of a larger pattern of behavior with health, social, and legal consequences for teens. The Center for Public Health in Liverpool advises stronger legislation, more research, and education for teens and their families to reverse this concerning emerging trend.
See original article posted here.
Hughes et. al., (2015). Associations Between E-cigarette Access and Smoking and Drinking Behaviours in Teenagers. BMC Public Health, 2015, 15:244.
Tavernise, S., (2015). Use of E-cigerette Use Rises Sharply Among Teenagers, Report Says. New York Times, 4/17/2015.
National Institute on Drug Abuse, (2014). Monitoring the Future Survey, Overview of Findings 2014. Retrieved on http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future/monitoring-future-survey-overview-findings-2014