Occasional smokers who vape smoke more cigarettes – Reuters

By Ronnie Cohen

(Reuters Health) – Tobacco companies have been selling electronic cigarettes as a way to wean smokers off paper cigarettes, but a new study suggests the strategy could backfire.

The report in Preventive Medicine found that young adults who occasionally smoked conventional cigarettes smoked more of them if they also used e-cigarettes – battery-powered gadgets that heat liquid nicotine into vapor.

“The participants who were vaping ended up using more cigarettes. It’s actually a risk factor for increasing their cigarette use,” lead author Neal Doran said in a phone interview.

“They’re not using e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking,” said Doran, a psychologist and psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Though smokers have been turning to e-cigarettes since they came on the market in 2007 as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, little is known about the long-term effects of the practice known as “vaping.”

E-cigarette use grew 900 percent among high school students from 2011 through 2015, according to a report from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The 2016 report declares e-cigarettes “unsafe” for youth and young adults (bit.ly/2sKHv9P).

The new study’s findings are “consistent with the worry that, regardless of whether vaping is itself unsafe, vaping causes worse outcomes because it leads to more consumption of cigarettes,” Doran said.

Stanton Glantz, who directs the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said the study “has tremendous policy implications.”

“What this study shows very convincingly is that if they’re using e-cigarettes it’s actually leading them to smoke more conventional cigarettes, not less,” he said.

Glantz was not involved with the new study, but the findings are consistent with those of previous research he conducted on adolescents.

“The e-cigarettes are having the effect of stimulating conventional cigarette smoking,” he said

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