Young people who vape would likely have smoked regular cigarettes if e-cigarettes were not available. This is according to a new study from the US.
"E-cigarettes can be an important tool for harm reduction at the population level. Although use is increasing among young people," the researchers behind the study conclude.
Researchers at Harvard and Brown Universities in the US wanted to know what role known background factors play when young people experiment with cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
"The proportion of young people using e-cigarettes has increased rapidly, especially among previously non-smoking young people." the researchers write.
At the same time, they note that smoking among young people has declined at an accelerated rate since e-cigarettes became popular. Much faster than researchers had previously predicted.
Compared background factors
Using data collected since 2009, when e-cigarettes were not openly available in the United States, the researchers gained a picture of how smoking habits among young people had changed by 2018. The results showed that young people aged 17 to 18 who use e-cigarettes in 2018 share a number of background factors with young smokers from 2009. Family relationships, alcohol habits, parental finances and the situation at school were some of the factors that interested the researchers.
"Young people who use e-cigarettes today share characteristics with young people who smoked long before e-cigarettes were available," the researchers write.
E-cigarettes replace smoking
According to the researchers, young people would be more likely to smoke traditional cigarettes if e-cigarettes were not available. In light of the fact that e-cigarettes are likely to have far fewer negative health consequences, the researchers believe that the trend is moving in the right direction.
"It appears that e-cigarettes are replacing smoking tobacco among young people," the researchers write. "E-cigarettes can be an important tool for harm reduction at the population level. Although use is increasing among young people"