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Monday December 10, 2018

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E-cigarettes 'may be a gateway for kids that might not otherwise be smoking'

More than a quarter of Canadian students in grades 10 to 12 say they have tried e-cigarettes, according to a new report. Health Canada released the results of its Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey . A total sample of 42,094 students in grades 6 to 12 completed the survey.

Teens who vape e-cigarettes with higher nicotine levels are more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes soon after, new research shows.

For the first time, the survey asked about e-cigarette use. Among those in grades 10 to 12, nine per cent used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days. About 27 per cent had tried e-cigarettes.

"We know that teens who vape e-cigarettes are much more likely to become conventional cigarette smokers," said study lead researcher Adam Leventhal. "Our study suggests that the nicotine in e-cigarettes may be a key reason why teens who vape progress to more frequent smoking."

Leventhal directs the University of Southern California Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory at the Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

The public health concern about e-cigarettes surrounds their potential as a gateway for young people to use cigarettes.

"They may be a gateway for kids that might not otherwise be smoking to have them try nicotine and then graduate to cigarettes afterward," Reid added. 

"While previous research reported that most adolescents were using nicotine-free e-cigarettes, results from our survey and other soon-to-be published studies show that many more teens are vaping e-cigarettes with nicotine than we originally thought," he said in a university news release.

Patricia Folan is a nurse who directs the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health in Great Neck, N.Y. She said that this, and other research, "highlights the imperative for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate these devices, including the amount of nicotine in these products and proper labeling of their content."

"It is encouraging that teenage smoking is on the decline," said Rob Cunningham, a senior policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society.

"But given that the overwhelming majority of smokers begin as teenagers, there is so much more that needs to be done. Implementation of plain packaging and a strengthened Health Canada tobacco strategy would make a big difference," he added in an email.

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