Yale Research into Teen Vaping

Posted 23rd August 2016 by Dave Cross
Doctor Krysten Bold submitted a study to the Pediatrics journal this week, conducted by her team at Yale’s Department of Psychology, looking at teen motivation to vape. They believe that longitudinal research is needed to identify predictors of continued electronic cigarette use among youth.

The team explained what they hoped to find in their paper: “We expected that certain reasons for first trying e-cigarettes would predict continued use over time (e.g., good flavours, friends use), whereas other reasons would not predict continued use (e.g., curiosity).”

“Youth who continue to use e-cigarettes tend to cite low cost and desire to quit smoking as reasons for vaping,” according to a press release from Yale University accompanying the research. The study followed up the initial investigation where they looked at middle and high school users in Connecticut, in 2013.

Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, said: “E-cigarette use is a major public health issue, and understanding use among youth is critical to inform youth-directed prevention efforts.”

Subjects who responded to the follow up survey who reported trying e-cigarettes to quit smoking were 14 times more likely to have continued vaping. The paper cautions against optimism on this point as the team highlight that “80% of youth who said they first tried vaping to help quit smoking were still smoking cigarettes six months later.”

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It’s an odd way of saying ‘vaping helps 20% of people to quit’, considering these teen smokers were attempting to quit through vaping (and without structured behavioural support) this is an excellent result when compared to traditional nicotine replacement products. Indeed, if one bears in mind other research comparing vaping with NRT, the results support the prior findings proving ecig efficacy.

Krishnan-Sarin doesn’t accept this point of view: “Even though they said they were using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, it doesn't appear to have necessarily helped them.” She went on to illustrate exactly where the team were coming from when she added: “E-cigarettes don't produce tobacco smoke, but they do contain nicotine. And researchers fear they'll create a new generation of smokers, with kids hooked on nicotine turning to tobacco for a stronger fix.”

Krishnan-Sarin, in that statement, is making a leap of logic that isn’t supported by the evidence – at least not the evidence from Britain. She continued: “Are kids going to start with e-cigarettes and then move on to cigarettes? Is that going to be the start of nicotine addiction?” Not if the figures produced by the Centres for Disease Control are anything to go by, they illustrate falling smoking rates not rising ones inspired by vaping.

Krysten Bold concludes with a chilling proposition: “Increasing the cost of e-cigarettes might be one policy that could be used to reduce vaping in this age group.” Having identified that vaping is an attractive proposition and actually works, the team appear to feel placing obstacles in the way of teen smokers looking to quit is a good thing.


Reasons for Trying E-cigarettes and Risk of Continued Use - Krysten W. Bold, PhD, Grace Kong, PhD, Dana A. Cavallo, PhD, Deepa R. Camenga, MD, Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, PhD

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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