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Jan 09, 2014 04:03 AM EST

Young Adults More Likely to Experiment With E-Cigarettes Due To ‘Safe Tag,’ Study

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E-cigarettes, which is touted as a much safer option than traditional cigarettes, is garnering a lot of popularity, according to a University of Minnesota study.

Researchers said that so far, the lasting effects and rate of addiction of using electronic-cigarettes have not been determined. Plus, lower health risks associated with e-cigarettes is being publicized widely in the media, drawing young adults to experiment with them.

For the study researchers surveyed 1,379 adolescents, who never smoked e-cigarettes. They wanted to find if there was a link between e-cigarette use and the general assumptions about them.

In the first survey, participants were asked about their perceptions on e-cigarettes and their effect on health. They were further asked if e-cigs helped cut rates of smoking.

One year later, a second survey asked participants if they had attempted to use e-cigarettes.

The researchers found that 7.4 per cent of the participants who had never smoked an e-cigarette had used them consequently. The survey also revealed that about 21.6 percent of smokers from the first survey tried an e-cigarette. About 11.9 percent, who quit smoking, reported to have tried them and 2.9 percent of nonsmokers experimented with e-cigarettes.

"Participants who agreed e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, and those who agreed that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, were more likely than those who did not agree to subsequently report experimenting with e-cigarettes. These associations did not vary by gender or smoking status," Dr Kelvin Choi, lead author, said in a press release.

Choi said that the finding is shocking because young adults are indirectly re-exposed to nicotine through e-cigarettes. It might also promote dual use of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

 "Results from this study suggest that messages about the lack of evidence on e-cigarettes being cessation aids, and the uncertainty of the risks associated with e-cigarette use may discourage young adults, particularly young adult non-smokers and former smokers, from experimenting with e-cigarettes," Choi said.

About 25.2 percent of American adults and 35.6 percent of young adults accounted for tobacco use in 2010. Anti-tobacco efforts across the county have not been largely successful since the popularity of e-cigarettes. It was introduced as an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes and was also assumed to be effective in helping to quit smoking.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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