New study: Flavored tobacco use increasing in young people
Thursday, January 10, 2019
According to a new study by Reuters Health, the growing popularity of e-cigarettes among U.S. youth may be associated with increased use of potentially dangerous (but wildly popular) flavored tobacco products.
I don’t want to state the obvious but...duh.
There is some good news in this: Tobacco use overall appears to be decreasing among American middle and high school students. The number of students using any tobacco products declined from 17.3 percent in 2014 to 13.6 percent in 2017.
But it’s a completely different picture when you factor in flavored tobacco products. Among young people who use tobacco, the proportion using flavored products dropped from 69.4 percent in 2014 to 57.7 percent in 2016 but then rebounded to 63.6 percent in 2017.
"As flavor use in other tobacco products decreased or leveled off, flavored e-cigarette use continued to increase," said study author Hongying Dai of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
The truth is, no form of tobacco use is safe for teens.
Large U.S. tobacco companies are all in the e-cigarette business. The battery-powered gadgets feature a glowing tip and a heating element that turns liquid nicotine and flavorings into a cloud of vapor that users inhale.
Another hard truth; even when e-liquids don’t contain nicotine, the lungs are still exposed to flavoring chemicals when the vapors are inhaled. While many of the flavorings are considered safe to eat, some previous research suggests that inhaling vapor from these chemicals may damage the lungs, blood vessels and even the heart.
The current Reuters study included 78,265 participants in the National Youth Tobacco Survey between 2014 and 2017.
The study doesn’t look at how changes in vaping habits or teen use of flavorless tobacco might directly impact health during adolescence or later in life.
It also doesn’t help answer a key question about vaping: whether e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit or prevent people from starting in the first place.
Still, the results add to and support the evidence suggesting that vaping is becoming increasingly popular among tweens and teens.
One brand of e-cigarettes popular among young people — JUUL — led to an explosion of flavored tobacco use in 2017 with a range of flavors like mango, cucumber and fruit. Late last year, JUUL said it would pull popular flavors from retail store shelves in an effort to curb teen use of the products.
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