Youth indulging in electronic cigarettes may be reversing the previous long term decline in teenage smoking. The US based study, published on 11 July, 2016, found that the teenagers had leveled off the smoke quitting in 2014, compared to 2004. The trend towards smoking among teenagers has increased due to easy availability of e-cigarettes.

The study investigated tobacco use in five groups of teenagers who left high school in the years of 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2014. Each group included 600 to 1,100 young individuals aged 17 to 18 years, who were asked about their tobacco use in individually tailored questionnaires. Results showed that the number of teenagers who had smoked in the previous 30 days had decreased steadily from 19.1% in 1995 to 9.0% in 2004 but then leveled off to just under 8.0% in 2014.

The e-cigarette use among adolescents has increased quickly in recent years, but it is uncertain whether e-cigarettes are just replacing standard cigarettes or if they are being used by individuals who would not otherwise have turned to smoking. The study was published in the BMJ on 11th July, 2016.

When asked about the use of conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, 13.7% of high school students in 2014 said that they had smoked or tried e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days. This was substantially greater than the 9.0% smoking prevalence in 2004, before e-cigarettes were available.

Lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis, from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, said, “If teenagers who vape are using e-cigarettes instead of cigarettes, we would have expected to see the decline in smoking rates continue through 2014. What we’ve seen is a downward trend in cigarette use from 1995 to 2004 but no further decrease in cigarette smoking rates in 2014. The combined e-cigarette and cigarette use in 2014 far exceeded what we would have expected if teens were simply substituting cigarettes with e-cigarettes. The data suggest that at least some of the teens who are vaping would not have smoked cigarettes.”

She said that e-cigarettes may be safer than standard cigarettes for adults who are trying to quit smoking but in case of youth who have never tried any other tobacco products, nicotine experimentation with e-cigarettes could lead to nicotine addiction. This discovery came few weeks after a similar survey conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed interesting e-cigarette facts.

According to the CDC survey, tobacco use among high school students is at its lowest in 25 years, but the use of e-cigarettes has increased significantly over the past few years.

The 2015 National Youth Risk Survey found that 11% of students reported smoking within the last 30 days, which was lower than the 28% first reported back in 1991 when the survey was conducted for the first time. However, this decrease has meant that more teens, 24% to be exact, are now using electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes in 2015.

The data was released on Thursday by CDC from the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveys published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The survey is conducted by CDC every two years and provides data on more than 15,000 adolescent health risks and health protective behaviors such as smoking, sexual behavior, drinking, drug use, physical activity and diet habits.

These stats should go down soon as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started to regulate e-cigarettes on May 5, 2016. This rule will restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to underage people, younger than 18. Previously a rule like this did not exist. The FDA will now overview all the e-cigarettes manufactured and marketed by different companies. The companies now have to get their tobacco products registered and approved by FDA.