Teenagers Using E-Cigarettes More Likely to Become Users of Combustible Tobacco: US Study

A recent study conducted by Adam Leventhal from Keck Medical School of the University of Southern California and his team, reported that teenagers using e-cigarettes are more likely to become users of combustible tobacco.

E-cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are devices that can give a feeling of smoking by delivering nicotine-containing aerosol (which is a heated combination of propylene glycol, water and glycerin). While these devices are assumed to be less harmful than conventional smoking, this study revealed that the users of e-cigarettes are more likely to switch to traditional smoking options such as hookah, cigarettes and cigars.

Teenager E-Cigarette

The study involved tracking 2,530 high school children (9th graders) from ten public schools in Los Angeles who never used combustible tobacco initially, when the study started in 2013. The follow-up assessments were done after six months (spring 2014) and again after 12 months (autumn 2014). At each of these assessments, some students admitted switching to combustible tobacco in the self-assessed surveys.

The numbers were as follows: Out of 222 students who were using e-cigarettes initially, at the 6-month assessment, 31% reported use of traditional smoking options as against 8% of students who were not on e-cigarettes at the start of the study. At the 12-month assessment stage, 25% of e-cigarette users reported starting off on tobacco-based smoking as against 9% of e-cigarette non-users.

These outcomes proved that using e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ increases the risk of starting off on combustible tobacco use during adolescence which in turn could lead to smoking related health risks which could reach epidemic levels, warned the report. While this study does not have any conclusive evidence linking vaping to traditional tobacco use, it definitely throws light on the increased possibility of such a situation.


Many experts opined that 14-year-old children need not use any product. Hence, this study reiterates the need for appropriate action that protects young children and decreases the demand for e-cigarettes, commented Dr Nancy Rigotti from Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, opined that this study reiterates the fact that we need to be vigilant of teen smoking patterns considering its ill-effects and addictive capabilities.

An interesting statistic regarding smoking is that e-cigarettes’ usage among American adolescents increased to 13.4% in 2014 from 4.5% in 2013, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. During the same period traditional cigarette usage decreased from 12.7% to 9.2%.

4 thoughts on “Teenagers Using E-Cigarettes More Likely to Become Users of Combustible Tobacco: US Study

  1. “This new study doesn’t show that vaping leads to smoking,” said Peter Hajek, professor of clinical psychology at the University of London… “It simply shows that people who are attracted to e-cigarettes are the same people who are attracted to smoking,”

    “Despite the headlines this study will generate, there is no evidence to suggest that experimentation with vaping among non-smokers leads to even regular vaping, let alone to smoking.” he added.

  2. If teenagers were likely to try conventional cigs after trying e-cigarettes the survey only proves that they tried them. Shocking! Surely teens don’t experiment with stuff? The fact that since e-cigarettes became popular in 2011, the rate of US teens smoking tobacco cigs has fallen by a massive 42%.

    Why did the researchers not take this obvious bit of data into account?

    Junk research…possibly?

  3. A survey that classifies someone as a user if they have tried an e-cigarette just once in the previous 30 days, should not be trusted. Teens experiment!

    Three recent major surveys of teens in the UK, looking into their e-cigarette use, asked questions to establish regular use – did they use them at least once a week. All three studies found that the percentage of never smokers who went on to become regular vapers was tiny. Less than one percent. The vast majority of user were teens that had switched for tobacco smoking. The surveys were commissioned by Cancer Research UK, anti-smoking charity, Ash UK and National Health Wales.

    If vaping did lead to more teens going on to smoke tobacco we would be seeing a steep rise in smoking – instead, tobacco use among US teens has fallen dramatically. Another solid reason not to trust this ill-conceived survey.

    Follow the money!


  4. The only thing this study shows is the same data that many sociological studies of “risky behavior” have shown for decades:

    1) Teens are inquisitive and rebellious by nature, and will try new things. Only a very small percentage will develop habits from this experimentation.

    2) Teens (or adults for that matter) who are willing to engage in “risky” behavior, are more likely do so many times and with different things. The “gateway” theory has been debunked over and over again with regard to cannabis use, and it’s the same for mild stimulants like caffeine and nicotine.

    3) Sociological behavior studies can (and often are) biased by the observer, which in this case, has a monetary reason for the initial results to ask for more funding. The initial study failed to even ask teens if they used vapor products that contained nicotine or are nicotine free, which may have thwarted their chances at additional funding if they had.

Leave a Reply