The world once celebrated the invention of e-cigarettes; battery-powered fake cigarettes to help curb cigarette addiction. But now, e-cigarettes are being used by unintended users: teenagers.
A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that e-cigarettes entice teenagers to smoke even more than normal cigarettes do. After questioning 2,300 students in the ninth grade from Ontario’s Niagara region, head researcher Dr. Michael Khoury found that over 10 per cent of the students surveyed tried e-cigarettes at one point or another. 71.9 per cent of those who smoked an e-cigarette tried it because it was “cool/fun/new,” while only 5.8 per cent actually did it just to smoke.
“The most common reason that three-quarters of them used it was to be cool, or it was fun and something new,” said Khoury. “That’s really concerning because they’re clearly not using them for what they’re marketed as, which is as smoking cessation devices.”
According to Khoury’s research, teens are using e-cigarettes more now than actual cigarettes. ‘Why is that so bad,’ you ask? Isn’t it good that kids won’t get the tar from normal cigarettes by smoking e-cigarettes? Think again.
“Although we’ve been really good about cigarette smoking to identify the tar in the smoke and how it’s bad for your lungs, people are looking at e-cigarettes and thinking it’s steam, it’s not smoke, so it must be safer, and forgetting that if it’s steam with nicotine involved, you still end up with that addiction to nicotine,” said Elizabeth Saewyc, a professor of nursing and adolescent medicine at the University of British Columbia.
In other words, the e-cigarette still acts as a gateway to smoking. Khoury points out how two past American studies even proved that teens who smoke e-cigarettes are more likely to use normal cigarettes in the future.
Health Canada’s also pretty anti-e-cigarettes, which isn’t surprising, considering how they haven’t been approved for sale in Canada yet. “Health Canada continues to advise Canadians, especially youth, against the use of these products,” said the department.
Looks like e-cigarettes are giving us more than we bargained for.