Study: There’s smoking-gun evidence that vaping is a gateway to teen tobacco use

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The vaping industry may claim that e-cigarettes are not a steppingstone to conventional smoking, but a new report offers  evidence to the contrary when it comes to at least one segment of the population.

RELATED: E-cigarette chemical linked to “popcorn lung”

Vaping is a $5 billion industry and growing

A newly released report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) found that vaping or e-cigarette use can be addictive and act like a gateway drug to steer teenagers toward conventional cigarettes.

The NASEM study culls findings from over 800 peer-reviewed scientific studies detailing a range of health impacts from e-cigarettes.

While smoking rates are down overall among adults and teenagers, vaping is an industry that’s just finding its footing.

One industry analyst predicts the e-cigarette industry will see a 15% increase in 2018 to become a $5.1 billion business in the United States, according to The New York Times.

Part of the appeal of e-cigarettes may be the price.

A Wallet Hub report found that smoking regular cigarettes costs the average smoker between $1 million to $2 million over a lifetime. And NerdWallet estimates that the average pack-a-day smoker spends about $2,600 a year on cigarettes.

But the cost of e-cigs is reportedly about half that.

E-cigarettes contain liquid nicotine. But that’s not all they have. “Most e-cigarettes contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances,” the NASEM study’s authors note.

In 2016, researchers found diacetyl — the chemical associated with “popcorn lung” — in 75% of vape-flavored liquids they studied.

That said, the NASEM study noted that e-cigs have “significantly lower [levels of toxins] compared with conventional cigarettes.” However, the scientists stopped short of declaring them safe.

And while vaping is addictive for teens, the NASEM study says e-cigarette use may help adults who smoke conventional cigarettes kick the habit.

To that end, anyone who truly wants to give up nicotine should check out QuitGuide, which is a free app developed by the Tobacco Control Research Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

In addition, quitSTART is another free app that’s made for teens who want to quit smoking, but adults can use it, too.

RELATED: What you need to know about e-cigarettes

5 tips for a more affordable healthy lifestyle

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring savings tips to that unique subset of individuals. He can be reached at theo@clark.com.
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