Vaping teens are more likely to smoke marijuana, according to the results of a survey, providing further evidence that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to tobacco and drugs.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started to consider vaping as a national epidemic among teenagers, with 1.7 million high school students and 500,000 middle school students estimated to be using e-cigarettes. How many of these teenagers will go on to experiment with marijuana?

Vaping Leads To Marijuana Use, Survey Shows

The results of a U.S. survey showed that teenagers who use e-cigarettes may be twice as likely to smoke marijuana, compared to other teenagers who are not vaping.

The survey involved over 10,000 respondents with ages of 12 years old to 17 years old. Among younger teens with ages of 12 years old to 14 years old, they were 2.7 times more likely to smoke marijuana after they experienced vaping. Meanwhile, among older teens with ages of 15 years old to 17 years old, the chances that they will smoke marijuana after vaping is 1.6 times higher.

The study also showed that 27 percent of teenagers who tried vaping went on to smoke marijuana, compared with only 8 percent for those who have not tried an e-cigarette. Worse, the researchers discovered that as young teens used e-cigarettes more often, the more likely that they will try smoking marijuana.

"Our findings suggest that the widespread use of e-cigarettes among youth may have implications for uptake of other drugs of abuse beyond nicotine and tobacco products," said lead researcher Hongying Dai, who is a senior biostatistician for Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

Dai explained that because the brain is still developing during a person's teenage years, exposure to nicotine may lead to side effects on the central nervous system that will predispose teens toward drug dependence.

Dai admitted that the survey does not prove that vaping directly leads to marijuana use. However, he added that it is easy to see how one habit may lead to another.

Is Vaping Safe?

E-cigarettes were touted as a safe alternative to tobacco products, but recent research has proven that this is not entirely true.

In February, researchers discovered that e-cigarettes contained toxic chemicals that may kill you. A significant number of vaping devices were found to generate aerosols that contained unsafe amounts of nickel, lead, manganese, or chromium.

Meanwhile, last month, a study revealed that vaping may lead to fatty liver disease, as well as a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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