More teenagers are trying electronic cigarettes - known as e-cigarettes - according to a study by the University of Florida. Researchers found that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use other tobacco products.
E-cigarettes produce vapor from a liquid that comes in a variety of flavors, like bubble gum and cotton candy. The liquid can be bought with or without nicotine.
Researchers say older people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit their smoking habit, while teens like them for recreational use.
The study’s lead investigator, Dr. Tracey Barnett, says teens who use e-cigarettes are also more likely to use tobacco products like hookah.
“That kind of takes us away from this idea that it’s a cessation device or a way to get them off cigarettes,” Barnett says.
The UF study is the first to show a connection between e-cigarettes and hookah use. A hookah is a water pipe used for smoking flavored tobacco.
The study looked at data collected by the state as part of the Florida Youth Tobacco survey. Twelve percent of Florida high school students reported trying e-cigarettes in 2013. Barnett says that’s 50,000 more teen-aged users than the year before.
“Our cigarette rates for teens were actually headed downward, and we were much lower than the national level," Barnett said. "The problem is, we also look to be a state that is leading the way in both e-cigarette and hookah use. It just was a really frustrating thing to see cigarette use heading downward and then other product use heading up.”
A Florida law passed last year banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Barnett says it’s too soon to know whether the law has had an impact on teen use.