According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the number of high school students using e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014, alarming many scientists and anti-smoking activists. Devices that release a vaporized nicotine solution, e-cigarettes have been very popular among young adults.
E-cigarettes are marketed as the safer and cheaper alternative to regular smoking, and it’s also been suggested that they can help tobacco smokers who want to quit. Marketers distance e-cigarettes from the image of lung cancer and other negative consequences of smoking.
However, researchers of a new Hawaiian study believe that students try e-smoking because it seems safer than regular smoking, and once they do seem more inclined to try regular smoking. Their data shows that among the students that smoked e-cigarettes, 41% also had tried regular smoking afterwards.
Nicotine, the drug found in both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes, affect the part of the brain that is in charge of decision-making and planning, which can be a problem to developing adolescents. The substance is also addictive, which is why people who try e-cigarettes may be inclined to try regular cigarettes.
Currently, not all the effects of e-smoking are known. Researchers worry about cardiovascular disease risks.
“Although e-smoking may eliminate the smoke factor because they don’t burn anything, it still causes nicotine addiction and other health problems. It’s still not safe,” Carolyn Hong, a sophomore at Harvard-Westlake, told JSR.
“I am against the use of e-cigarettes. It’s disturbing to think that the e-cigarettes are portrayed as healthier when they are still addictive and have negative health consequences,” Harvard-Westlake sophomore Kami Durairaj said.