As patients of central Oklahoma City dentist Dr. David Allen know, smoking ranks as the most dangerous habit you can have when it comes to your oral health. While the number of smokers as a whole has declined over the last couple of decades, the latest trend of smoking e-cigarettes has seen a significant increase in the number of people who smoke, especially among teens.
Teens who use e-cigarettes have a significantly higher likelihood of moving on to smoke regular cigarettes, according to the results of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers involved in the study found that this was true even if the teens were at an otherwise low risk of using traditional cigarettes.
A Startling Connection
As part of the study, the Los Angeles-based researchers highlighted the behavior of high school juniors and seniors who were about to turn 18 and gain the legal right to purchase cigarettes. The researchers wanted to know if adolescents who used e-cigarettes, but not traditional tobacco cigarettes, had significantly higher odds of smoking other types of tobacco products as they grew older.
The study determined that “e-cigarette use is a clear and consistent indicator of likelihood of subsequent initiation of cigarette and other combustible tobacco product use at ages spanning from early adolescence through emerging adulthood,” reported researchers from the University of Southern California.
E-Cigarette Use Can Lead To Smoking Habits
While science has firmly established the dangers smoking traditional cigarettes poses to an individual’s health, especially their oral health, the role e-cigarettes play as a gateway product to combustible forms of tobacco has yet to be fully studied.
Researchers began their study by examining cigarette use for 11th and 12th grade high school students in Southern California. They used information collected as part of the 2014 Southern California Children’s Health Study, which was collected during the spring semester of 2014.
From late 2015 to early 2016, researchers went about collecting additional data through the use of a follow-up survey to all former 11th and 12th grade students who had never smoked a regular or e-cigarette, as well as those who had smoked an e-cigarette but not a regular type. The researchers recorded 152 never users and 146 e-cigarette users in the final data collected. All of the students involved in the follow-up survey were 18 or older and able legally buy cigarettes.
Researchers discovered that the students who claimed to have used e-cigarettes in high school were six times more likely to using regular cigarettes later on. Students who admitted to smoking e-cigarettes in high school were also more likely to use other types of tobacco products including pipes and cigars.
Additionally, researchers found that the risk of smoking cigarettes was higher even among those students who had reported no intention to smoke while still in school. Specifically, 36% of e-cigarette users who were considered unsusceptible to regular cigarettes ended up smoking, while only 6% of unsusceptible nonusers of e-cigarettes went on to smoke regular cigarettes.
Combined, researchers believe these findings suggest that e-cigarette use is not only a market for individuals who would smoke, but that e-cigarette use is likely acting as a gateway for new youth to use tobacco products as a whole.
The results of this study should be troubling for parents just as it is for your central Oklahoma City dentist. Higher rates of smoking can mean significant health problems for future generations. Fortunately, the FDA has recently implemented laws making the purchase of e-cigarettes for those under the age of 18 illegal. Hopefully, the FDA’s new ruling will help to reduce the number of kids who get ahold of e-cigarettes and close the gate that’s been opened to smoking.