Canadian study shows teens who use e-cigarettes linked to later tobacco smoking

Click to play video: 'Study finds link between vaping now and smoking later in life'
Study finds link between vaping now and smoking later in life
WATCH: A Canadian study finds Alberta and Ontario teens may be more prone to smoke if they use e-cigarettes. As Reid Fiest reports, while the research shows there's an association between the two habits, finding proof of a direct scientific link still hasn't been found – Oct 30, 2017

TORONTO – Teenagers who use electronic cigarettes are at risk of graduating to tobacco smoking, a large Canadian study suggests.

The study of more than 44,000 Grade 9 to 12 students in Ontario and Alberta, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), shows a “strong and robust” linkage between so-called vaping and subsequent tobacco use.

“We found that youth that had used e-cigarettes were significantly more likely to start smoking a year later,” said lead researcher David Hammond, a professor in the school of public health at the University of Waterloo.

“They’re more likely to try smoking and they’re more likely to become daily smokers.”

The big question, said Hammond, is whether it’s the use of e-cigarettes that is making some young people smoke.

READ MORE: Canadian study shows teens can easily buy e-cigarettes online

“A lot of what we’re seeing in our study and a lot of other studies out there is a simple fact, and that is the kids who do risky things, the ones that are more likely to try e-cigarettes are also more likely to try smoking,” he said from Waterloo, Ont.

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“And guess what? They’re also more likely to try alcohol and marijuana. It’s all to do with the fact that kids who are susceptible are going to try different things.

VIDEO: Teenagers using less tobacco, but more e-cigarettes

Click to play video: 'Teenagers using less tobacco, but more e-cigarettes'
Teenagers using less tobacco, but more e-cigarettes

“We’ve had something like two million Canadian youth try e-cigarettes and we’d be foolish if we weren’t concerned about kids trying nicotine products at an earlier age than they typically try smoking.”

The research, known as the COMPASS study, looked at e-cigarette use among students in 2013/14, with a follow-up a year later. Students were classified into six categories: current daily smokers, current occasional smokers, former smokers, experimental smokers, puffers; and those who had never tried smoking.

READ MORE: Young Canadians know they’re being targeted by e-cigarette marketing

Those teens who vaped in the 30 days prior to the start of the study were more likely to start smoking cigarettes and to continue smoking after one year, researchers found.

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“Youth may be trying e-cigarettes before smoking because they are easier to access,” said Hammond, noting that tobacco cannot be sold to minors.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst for the Canadian Cancer Society, said vaping by young people is of significant concern.

“Certainly nicotine is addictive and we don’t want e-cigarettes to be a mechanism whereby youth get addicted to nicotine,” he said.

VIDEO: Debating the difference between e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes

“And that’s why it’s so important to prevent kids from using e-cigarettes or starting smoking.”

While Canada has not approved nicotine-containing e-cigarettes for sale in conventional retail outlets such as supermarkets, the products are widely available online and in vape stores.

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READ MORE: NB man receives painful burns after e-cigarette battery explodes in jacket pocket

Non-nicotine e-cigarettes, which come in hundreds of flavours, do not require government approval to be sold and make up a large part of the market in Canada.

However, that is expected to soon change. Bill S-5, which would create new regulations governing e-cigarettes, was approved by the Senate in June and is currently before the House of Commons.

Among its provisions, Bill S-5 would outlaw the sale of vaping products to minors and prohibit the promotion of e-cigarettes containing flavours that appeal to youth, as well as restricting advertising of these products.

VIDEO: New study suggests e-cigarettes be used to help people quit smoking

Click to play video: 'New study suggests e-cigarettes be used to help people quit smoking'
New study suggests e-cigarettes be used to help people quit smoking

But Cunningham said the provisions in Bill S-5 for e-cigarette advertising are weak compared to those for both tobacco and for cannabis, when the latter product becomes legal next year.

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“And I think the bill should be amended to strengthen the restrictions on e-cigarettes advertising,” he said.

READ MORE: Why a landmark study suggests e-cigarettes are safer than smoking

The Canadian Medical Association recommends a ban on the sale of all electronic cigarettes to those younger than the minimum age for tobacco consumption in their province or territory.

The doctors group also wants the licensing system tightened to limit the number of outlets where tobacco products, as well as vaping devices, can be purchased, along with restrictions on the promotion of e-cigarettes.

“Protecting Canada’s youth should be of the utmost importance for government and health-care professionals alike,” said CMA president Dr. Laurent Marcoux.

“The findings in this (study) provide even more evidence that the government should continue to work to limit sales and decrease the appeal of products that are often targeted towards Canada’s youth,” Marcoux said by email.

The CMAJ is editorially independent from the Canadian Medical Association.

VIDEO: Ontario puts restrictions on e-cigarettes

Watch below: New Canadian research suggests e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco for teens. Su-Ling Goh reports.

Click to play video: 'New research suggests e-cigarettes serve as gateway to tobacco for youth'
New research suggests e-cigarettes serve as gateway to tobacco for youth

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