Editor’s Note: It’s not clear that the study has appropriately modeled causality. Or that the results can be replicated.
E-cigarettes may lead to nicotine addiction
Stephanie M. Lee, Erin Allday
E-cigarettes are promoted as safe alternates to cigarettes, but may only serve as a new route to nicotine addiction among adolescents, a new UCSF study has found.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that look like cigarettes and deliver nicotine and other chemicals. Researchers assessed their use among youth in South Korea, where the devices are marketed similarly to how they are marketed in the United States.
In the analysis, researchers found that 4 out of 5 South Korean adolescents who use e-cigarettes also smoke tobacco cigarettes. Young e-cigarette smokers, they added, are more likely to have tried to quit smoking, which suggests they think e-cigarettes will help wean them from smoking.
In fact, the researchers found, the use of e-cigarettes was associated with heavier use of conventional cigarettes. And that means, they concluded, that the nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive.
E-cigarette use has increased considerably in South Korea. Less than 1 percent of youths tried the product in 2008, when it was introduced, but more than 9 percent reported using it in 2011. In the U.S., about 1.78 million U.S. students reported using e-cigarettes as of 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study appeared last week in the Journal of Adolescent Health.