Traditional cigarette smoking in America has dropped to historic lows, and it looks like electronic cigarettes could be helping. As “vaping” grows in popularity, studies have shown that the habit encourages adult smokers to quit the older, nastier version.
But there’s a big problem—teenagers. And they’re making the entire e-cigarette phenomenon a regulatory nightmare.
While traditional smoking among young people is also headed down, emerging evidence indicates that e-cigs are serving as a gateway for those youth who don’t already smoke cigarettes. Dartmouth College researchers showed that some cigarette-smoking adults in the U.S. were able to quit with the help of the devices, but it also revealed that 81 times as many adolescents and young adults who used e-cigs eventually moved on to a regular smoking habit.
Samir Soneji, an associate professor of health policy at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine and the paper’s lead author, warned that the high level of nicotine in e-cigs (the device vaporizes a flavored liquid containing the addictive substance), combined with the expense of the modern habit, sets teens up to become real smokers.