Electronic cigarettes are a hit among teens these days. There will be fewer teenagers who have not tried e-cigarette even once. Curiosity, peer pressure, and a slew of flavors in which e-cigarettes are offered are some of the reasons that make it difficult to resist.
Apart from the fun, many teens also continue smoking e-cigarettes in the hope that the habit will help them quit conventional smoking, says a recent study. Teens also found this to be cheaper, it said. Teens who tried e-cigarettes for their low cost, increased their consumption during the six months of the trial, said senior researcher of the study Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.
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The study, published online in the journal Pediatrics in August 2016, surveyed 340 users in two middle schools and three high schools in 2013, and tried to find out the reasons for their first trial of e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes should be made less attractive
Some of the reasons cited by the teens for trying this were:
- Curiosity: 57 percent
- Good flavors: 42 percent
- Peer influence: 33 percent
- Healthier option than cigarettes: 26 percent
- Not smelly: 21 percent
- Good to use anywhere: 21 percent
The researchers found that those who tried to quit smoking were 14 times more at risk of continuing with e-cigarettes than those who'd used them for other reasons. The results suggested that policymakers should make e-cigarettes less attractive so that their rampant use among teenagers may be checked.
The researchers revisited the teens after six months to know whether they were still using e-cigarettes. If yes, what was the rationale behind it? Those who cited low cost and their utility in quitting smoking ended up using more e-cigarettes than those who cited other reasons. But other reasons also predicted continued use of this.
According to lead researcher Krysten Bold, “The most robust predictors were the low cost and trying it to quit smoking.”
E-cigarettes of no help to quit smoking
The researchers found that e-cigarettes don't deliver for all the reasons cited by the teenagers. They said that e-cigarettes didn't help the teens quit smoking. It revealed that four out of five teens were smoking regular cigarettes even after six months.
“Even though they said they were using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, it doesn't appear to have necessarily helped them,” Krishnan-Sarin said. Though e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, they do contain nicotine and this is harmful. The fear looms large that e-cigarettes might create a new breed of smokers with teens hooked on nicotine turning to tobacco for a stronger dose.
The new guidelines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May 2016 announced to ban sale of e-cigarettes to anyone younger than 18. The regulations came into effect on August 8, 2016. According to experts, advertisements also play an important role in making cigarettes attractive to teens.
Whether it is e-cigarettes, tobacco or any other substance, the ordeal of addiction more or less remains the same. Chronic addiction of any kind can be fatal. But it is also treatable when intervened at the right time. Early intervention helps in managing symptoms easily and chances of relapse are reduced considerably.