*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
Instead of being a safe alternative to smoking, vaping may serve as an enticing gateway to the cigarette habit for some teens, new research shows.
It’s known that teens who use electronic cigarettes are more likely than their peers to take up the real thing. But the question of cause-and-effect has remained: Perhaps those same kids might have started smoking anyway?
But the new study casts doubt on that idea.
Researchers found that among teens who said they had no intention to ever smoke, those who vaped were more than four times more likely to eventually try cigarettes.
That, experts said, suggests that e-cigarettes can predispose kids to tobacco use — possibly by fueling a craving for nicotine.
The study was published online in Pediatrics. It included more than 8,660 U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 who were surveyed between 2014 and 2016. Initially, just under 13% said they intended to start smoking, and 8.5% had ever vaped.
By the next survey, those e-cigarette users were more likely to have tried cigarettes — but only if they’d previously had no plans to start smoking.
Among kids with no intention to smoke traditional cigarettes, almost 10% of e-cigarette users went on to try cigarettes, versus about 2% of other teens. That contrasted with their peers who had planned to start smoking. E-cigarette use made no difference in whether they eventually tried cigarettes.
The study could not look at whether vaping got some kids hooked on nicotine, Owotomo said — but that is a possibility.