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Jan 24, 2017 11:41 AM EST

E-cigarettes Do Not Stop Youth From Smoking, According To UCSF Study

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Contrary to the popular belief that e-cigarettes help in lowering the usage of cigarettes among youth in the U.S., studies have found "piling evidence" that it doesn't. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), conducted a national analysis looking into the statistics regarding e-cigarette usage, more commonly knowing as "vaping." Instead of finding evidence pointing to vape's alleged ability to lower smoking among youth, they found that it pointed the opposite direction: vaping actually encourages youth to smoke.

Moreover, the researchers found that low-risk youth were ultimately encouraged to smoke actual cigarettes because of vaping, leading them to conclude that if e-cigarettes did not exist, these youths wouldn't have smoked at all. The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.

UCSF researchers studied survey data from more than 140,000 middle and high school students. All of them completed the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Youth Tobacco Survey conducted between 2002 and 2014. They found that combined e-cigarette and cigarette among adolescents in 2014 was higher than total cigarette consumption in 2009.

Study lead author Lauren Dutra, a former postdoctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and current social scientist at RTI International, a not-for-profit research organization based in North Carolina, said in a press release that they didn't find any evidence that e-cigarettes are causing youth smoking to decline. Rather, the recent decline in youth smoking is attributed to efforts to control tobacco.

Dutra adds that while some of the kids in the study were using e-cigarettes and smoking actual cigarettes, they also found that kids who were at low risk of starting nicotine with cigarettes were using e-cigarettes. Simply put, youths who were not predisposed to smoking tobacco but ended up smoking started with e-cigarettes.

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said e-cigarettes are expanding the tobacco market by encouraging youth to smoke and to consume nicotine.

If e-cigarettes won't help college-aged youth stop smoking, then maybe free food will.

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