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Teens Who Regularly Vape Could Become Heavy Cigarette Smokers Within 6 Months

Nov 09, 2016 10:27 AM EST

A recent study reveals that teens who vape or use e-cigarettes often have a higher possibility of becoming heavy cigarettes smokers in just six months.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), involved 3,000 participants who are students from 10 public high schools in the Los Angeles area. The 10th graders, aged 15 years old, were analyzed in terms of their e-cigarette use during the fall of 2014 and then six months later.

Conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, the study shows that those who vaped more has 10 times the possibility of being heavy smokers than those who have not vaped at all, the American Pharmacists Association reports.

Adam Leventhal, director of the Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory, told TIME that it is important to get participants who are 15 years of age because this is a "critical time when smoking either onsets or accelerates."

The study reveals that 20 percent of the teens who are heavy vapers transitioned to cigarette smoking in just six months while only 1 percent of the participants, who were non-vapers, became cigarette smokers. Leventhal explained that the logic behind this connection is due to the amount of vaping. The higher the amount of vaping a person does, the higher will be his/her requirement once he/she becomes a smoker.

“It’s such an emerging public health issue. These teens aren’t just experimenting -- a significant portion are progressing to more regular levels of smoking," said Leventhal.

Leventhal says that the link between vaping and smoking may be due to the fact that vaping still has nicotine, which triggers an addicting effect to the teens' brains. When a vaping teen tries his or her first cigarette, the experience will be familiar and more pleasurable than to non-vapers, who might dislike nicotine as they have not been exposed to it before.

Currently, there have been a lot of studies on e-cigarettes and vaping and its claim of helping people to quit smoking.

"I’m aware of six separate studies now that show that teens who vape are more likely to start using a smokable tobacco product. This pattern is associated with a high risk of health effects and progression to adult and chronic smoking," Leventhal said.

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