Study: Are E-Cigarettes Causing Smokers to Light Up or Burn Out?

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Are e-cigarettes helping or hurting the crusade to drive down the number of smokers in the U.S.? That’s still a question that health experts and researchers are trying to answer. The results of one study, conducted by Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, suggest that e-cigarettes are leading to less quitting, not more, which is a significant issue, considering more youth and adults are now using them.

The Columbus Dispatch highlighted the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics on Thursday, and the publication outlined Glantz’s findings that middle school and high school students who used electronic cigarettes were more likely to smoke real cigarettes and less likely to quit than students who did not use the devices. The students with the e-cigarettes were also more likely to smoke heavily, leading the study to conclude, “The use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents.”

The study’s findings that Glantz drew from federal survey data from more than 17,000 middle school and high school students in 2011 and more than 22,000 students in 2012, according to the Dispatch, are significant because an increasing number of the nation’s 45 million smokers are relying on electronic cigarettes as a vehicle to eventually help them quit. The possibility that the cigarettes could encourage more smoking, rather than discourage it, is an alarming one.

This especially rings true for young people, the group that accounts for 3 million of the nation’s smokers. More and more of these adolescents are turning to e-cigarettes for the purpose of helping them quit, but if Glantz is right and the devices are only furthering the nicotine addiction rather than minimizing it, then there indeed is a problem.

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