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Dr. Ilana Schmitt: ‘Vaping’ is proven path to tobacco addiction



Wednesday, September 23, 2015
SUNDERLAND — New state regulations limiting the sale of e-cigarettes to children take effect Friday. And they come not a moment too soon.

This is because of the association of “vaping” in children with their regular use of tobacco cigarettes — a link around which there is a growing consensus.

A Sept. 15 article about the new regulations stated there is no scientific consensus on whether vaping leads kids to become regular smokers.

Among teens put off cigarettes by health risk and social stigma, e-cigarettes are an increasingly popular way to try nicotine products. The Centers for Disease Control report a tripling of their use from 2011-2014 among middle and high school students.

Even with no smoke, these products do contain nicotine, the drug that makes tobacco products so addictive.

Pediatricians like myself and all those concerned about public health worry that e-cigarettes are opening up a new market for tobacco products among adolescents. It is becoming the new gateway to nicotine addiction.

All the data are not yet in, but it is clear from multiple studies that young people using e-cigarettes are more likely, not less, to smoke cigarettes. A study published July 27 online in the journal Pediatrics found that 10 percent of the California high school students surveyed were using e-cigarettes. Of those, a third also smoked tobacco cigarettes.

This contrasted with 1 percent smoking of cigarettes among those who did not use e-cigarettes. The Massachusetts Medical Society has advocated for this legislation. We applaud the Commonwealth’s action to ban sales of these products to those under 18.

We cannot stand by and watch a new generation become addicted to nicotine.

Ilana Schmitt, MD, is vice president of the Hampshire District of the Massachusetts Medical Society.