Vaping habits of teenagers can be largely shaped by family and friends, a new study reveals. The use of electronic cigarettes is more common among adolescents who have family and friends who consider e-cigarettes to be acceptable and trendy, researchers found.
Electronic cigarettes allow users to inhale vapors infused with nicotine. The devices were first introduced in China in 2004. Many studies indicate that people who use vaporizers also often smoke traditional tobacco products, such as cigarettes, as well. However, this new study suggests that many adolescents taking part in vaping never consumed other forms of the drug. In all, 41 percent of teens who report using electronic cigarettes say they have never tried smoking in the traditional manner.
"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," Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles said.
A study of 2,084 teenagers living in southern California revealed that 10 percent had taken part in vaping during the last 30 days, compared with 6 percent who consumed other forms of tobacco. Around one in every five said they tried smoking tobacco at some point in their lives, compared with one in four who said the same about e-cigarettes.
Researchers determined that factors leading to the increased use of either nicotine-delivery method included use by parents or friends, as well as a positive attitude toward smoking by people around the teens.
While just 1 percent of teenagers in the study stated their belief that traditional tobacco smoking wasn't dangerous to health, 14 percent (roughly one in seven) said the same thing about vaping. This rate appeared to be tied to the decision by the adolescent of whether or not to use the drug.
Research into the health effects of vaping remains scarce. However, nicotine has been shown to have a detrimental effect on the development of brains in adolescents. Researchers are advising parents to warn their teens about these risks to the brain. Additional health risks may also be found in the flavorings some manufacturers add to the liquid payload of e-cigarettes. Little study has been conducted on the safety of these chemical additives.
Data for the study of psychosocial factors leading to tobacco and e-cigarette use was collected from the Southern California Children's Health Study, taken in the spring of 2014 from 2,084 Southern California teens in 11th and 12th grades.
Analysis of factors which lead to smoking or vaping by teenagers was published in the journal Pediatrics.