Teens Who Use Flavored E-cigarettes More Likely to Keep Vaping, Take More Puffs

Teenagers who use flavored e-cigarettes are more likely to keep vaping, a study has found. A total of 478 vaping teenagers who attended 10 schools in the Los Angeles County area took part in the study. Researchers checked in with the participants every six months, between the 10th grade in spring 2015 until 12th grade in 2017.

Around 90 percent of the adolescents used flavored oil—like fruit, candy, sweet, dessert and buttery— as opposed to traditional cigarette flavours such as tobacco or menthol.

Of those who used the alternative flavors, 64.3 percent were still vaping six months later. That was compared with 42.9 percent of those who opted for traditional flavours.

Teens who used flavours vaped more heavily after six months, and reported puffing more during each session. However, the team found the taste didn't seem to affect how many days the participants vaped, or when.

Co-author Professor Adam Leventhal, director of the University of Southern California Institute for Addiction Science, commented in a statement: "While many children try e-cigarettes, not all become regular users. Teens who use e-cigarettes may be more inclined to continue vaping rather than just temporarily experiment with e-cigs.

"Whether or not children continue vaping is important—the longer and more frequently you vape, the more you're exposing yourself to toxins in e-cigarette aerosol and put yourself at risk for nicotine addiction."

The research comes amid a multi-state outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries. As of October 22, 34 people have died and 1,604 people have fallen ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Last month, the Trump administration said it would ban e-cigarette flavors in the hope it would stop young people picking up the potentially dangerous habit.

However, no specific chemical, product or substance has been linked to every case, according to the CDC. At this time, more research needs to be done to uncover the specifics, the agency said.

Leventhal told Newsweek: "Regulations which reduce youth exposure to flavored e-cigarettes may aid in preventing young people who try e-cigarettes from becoming long-term e-cig users, and also from inhaling more of aerosol into their lungs.

"Regulations like these could also encourage the millions of U.S. adolescents who already use e-cigarettes to quit vaping, especially if they can no longer access e-cigs in the flavors they like."

He continued: "All children should stay away from trying nicotine products. Our study suggests that if children do ultimately use e-cigarettes, if they can access flavored e-cigarettes they may be more likely to stick with vaping."

Richard Miech, Professor and Principal Investigator of the Monitoring the Future Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, told Newsweek in September that young people and teens in particular should avoid vaping.

"Among teens, some will have their phones taken away from them by their parents but continue to vape because they cannot stop," he said. "Some teens have also been kicked off their school sports team as a result of vaping they cannot control."

This article has been updated with comment from Adam Leventhal.

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Researchers believe teens who vape candy or fruit-flavored e-cigarettes are more likely to vape more heavily. A stock image shows a girl using an e-cigarette. Getty