The rising prevalence of teen electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is concerning. Some teens believe, incorrectly, that e-cigarettes carry fewer health risks. Please see our new Custom Collection addressing the harms of e-cigarettes and factors associated with their uptake. A significant topic of debate is the degree to which use of one product leads to use of the other. Bold et al. (10.1542/peds.2017-1832) share with us the results of three years’ worth of longitudinal surveys of over 800 high school teens in Connecticut looking at the bidirectional relationship between past-month e-cigarette and conventional cigarettes over time. The results smoke out some concerning findings including the fact that past-month e-cigarette use predicted future conventional cigarette use but past-month cigarette smoke did not predict e-cigarette smoking. What their three waves of annual surveys also showed was that even if teens did not switch over from e-cigarette to conventional cigarettes or vice-versa, the frequency of their smoking increased over time.
So what can be done to stop this one-way pathway to all the dangers of nicotine and other carcinogens introduced by e-cigarette and in turn combustible cigarette smoking? We asked Dr. Jonathan Klein, (10.1542/peds.2017-2850) anti-tobacco advocate and Director of the AAP’s Julius Richmond Center (focused on smoking prevention) to provide a commentary to answer this question. Dr. Klein discusses what we can do as child health care professionals on an individual as well as community and even national level to influence policy that will hopefully limit access that teens have to vaping and e-cigarettes. At a minimum, sharing the results of this study and the information in Dr. Klein’s commentary with your teen patients might help educate them to be more aware of the slippery slope they take if they decide to try e-cigarettes. Check out this study, commentary, and the Custom Collection of articles all focused on what we are learning about e-cigarettes so you can light up the minds of your teens and hopefully have them not light up electronic or combustible cigarettes as a result.