Nicotine vaping has been strongly linked to a higher likelihood of binge drinking and cannabis use, according to a major new study.
A database of more than 50,000 adolescents in the United States was used to track trends in the use of cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, nicotine and cannabis vaping, and other substances.
The researchers found that teens who vaped were 20 times more likely to use cannabis than those who didn’t use nicotine at all, and those who smoked and vaped were 40 times more likely to use the drug.
An association was also found between smoking and vaping, with the association increasing in magnitude the higher the levels of binge drinking.
The results, published in the journal Substance use and abuseit may add to growing public health concerns about the growing popularity of vaping use among young people.
“Although the overall health risks of vaping are lower than those of smoking, e-cigarettes are still harmful to adolescents and require ongoing surveillance, especially as the long-term impacts remain unknown,” said the lead author, Noah Kreski of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
“Our findings indicate that vaping is not an isolated behavior, but rather strongly linked to the use of other substances that can harm adolescents and make it more difficult to quit smoking.
“Recognizing the strong overlap between various forms of substance use, effective intervention efforts should work to address vaping, alcohol use and cannabis concurrently to encourage youth health and well-being.”
The researchers used the annual Monitoring the Future survey for the study, conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). They looked at data from 51,872 teenagers who took part in the survey between 2017 and 2019.
The authors highlight some survey-related limitations of this study, including that nicotine vaping and smoking were self-reported by participants, which they said may be vulnerable to measurement and recall bias.
Experimental vaping has increased by 50% among UK children
Meanwhile, a survey released on Thursday showed a sharp increase in experimental vaping among children in the UK.
The YouGov survey, conducted for the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), found that since 2022 there has been a 50% increase in children trying to vape.
Last year, 7.7 percent of kids had experimented with vaping, while this year, that number jumped to 11.6 percent.
She found that disposable – or disposable – e-cigarettes are currently the favorite vape for kids, and they mostly buy them at corner shops.
However, there was no significant change from last year in the percentage of children who currently smoke or vape.
“We need to stem the tide of childhood vaping experimentation, and the government’s investment in a crackdown on illegal sales of vapes to underage vapes is a critical first step,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive officer of ASH.
“But enforcement alone won’t do the trick without tougher regulation to address the child-friendly promotion of these cheap and attractive products. ASH’s youth survey demonstrates the rapid growth of in-store vape promotion, using brightly colored pack displays, reminiscent of past cigarette displays.
“The evidence is clear, the government must take strong action to stop the marketing of vaporizers to children.”
ASH said the growth of vaping is due to the growing popularity of affordable, easy-to-use, and attractively branded disposable vaporizers.
While experts are concerned about a rise in children experimenting with vaping, Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addictions at King’s College London, said the misperception that vaping is more or equally harmful than smoking is also dangerous.
“ASH surveys show that for the first time this year, the majority of adults who smoke, and the majority of all children, think vaping is more or equally harmful than smoking,” he said.
These misperceptions are likely to encourage children to believe they might as well smoke as much as they vape, and discourage adults who smoke but have never vaped from accepting the government’s “quit swap” offer.
“A well-funded communications campaign is needed to address these growing misperceptions.”