*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
More U.S. teens use e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes and marijuana together, posing greater risks to their health and behavior than if they used only one substance, a new study finds.
Called “triple users,” this group score high on a profile of psychosocial risk, which includes fighting, risky sexual behavior and behaviors such as not wearing seat belts, according to lead researcher Thomas Wills.
And they account for nearly 1 in 5 high school students, survey results show.
These and other recent data show that a substantial proportion of high school students are using marijuana and that teens tend to use both marijuana and e-cigarettes. In the data analyzed, the dual and triple users together made up a third of the adolescent users.
For the study, the researchers looked at data from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey on the use of e-cigarettes, combustible cigarettes and marijuana among U.S. high school students.
They found that 44% of teens didn’t use any of these products. Triple users made up 17% of the sample, followed by cigarette and marijuana users, 16%, and e-cigarette users, 13%.
“But once e-cigarettes have been taken up, they seem to set in motion a process that involves other substances. So instead of a large group of single users, you now have a group of triple users,” Willis said.
E-cigarettes, he added, are clearly a factor in nicotine addiction among teenagers. And there is mounting evidence that e-cigarettes and marijuana are both linked to respiratory illness in the near term, like adolescent asthma, with the likelihood of longer-term harms such as lung damage, he said.
“Bottom line is that e-cigarettes are not harmless and that industry efforts to promote them in venues popular with teenagers through social media need to be countered,” Wills said.
In terms of those likely to engage in risky behaviors, triple users ranked highest. E-cigarette users ranked above nonusers, but below users of both cigarettes and marijuana.
The report was published online in the journal Pediatrics.