LOS ANGELES —Teens are more likely to use electronic cigarettes if their friends and family view them as acceptable, a new study suggests, reported Reuters.
The new study can’t say e-cigarette use leads to use of traditional cigarettes, but the researchers suggest the new devices may lead to the “renormalization” of tobacco products.
“There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes,” said lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Previous studies have found links between use of traditional and e-cigarettes, Barrington-Trimis said. But the new study suggests some teens picking up e-cigarettes belong to a unique group.
Many teens in the new study who said they had recently used e-cigarettes had never smoked traditional cigarettes, the researchers found.
“If you think of e-cigarette and cigarette use as two circles, the overlap isn’t as big as expected,” Barrington-Trimis said.
Using data collected in 2014 from 2,084 Southern California teens, the authors found that about 25% reported ever using e-cigarettes and about 20% reported ever using traditional cigarettes.
About 10% had used an e-cigarette within the past 30 days, compared to about 6% reporting recent traditional cigarette use.
Teens were more likely to use e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes if either product was used at home, if friends used either product or if peers viewed use of either product positively, the researchers reported in the study, just published in Pediatrics magazine.
About 14% of teens thought e-cigarettes are not harmful, compared to about 1% who thought cigarettes are not harmful.
The youngsters’ understanding of possible harms from e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes was tied to their likelihood of using either product.
Overall, the use of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes was linked, but about 41% of current e-cigarette users had never smoked traditional cigarettes.
The teens felt their peers were more likely to accept their e-cigarette use than traditional cigarette use.
“Our findings really suggest there’s a lot of kids who are using these e-cigarettes,” Barrington-Trimis said.
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