0818-News-Students risk_BlogLos Angeles high school students who tried electronic cigarettes were more likely to smoke cigarettes, cigars or hookahs within a year than those who hadn’t tried e-cigarettes, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA

E-cigarettes deliver a nicotine-containing aerosol popularly called vapor by heating a solution usually made of glycerin, nicotine and flavoring agents. An American Heart Association policy statement said that e-cigarettes target young people, can keep people hooked on nicotine and threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use.

Researchers studied 2,530 ninth graders attending 10 Los Angeles public high schools to evaluate whether e-cigarette use made the use of combustible tobacco more likely in the next year.

They found that the 222 e-cigarette users at the beginning of the study were more likely than the 2,308 students who never used e-cigarettes to use combustible tobacco after six months and 12 months. The results remained after researchers adjusted for socio-demographic, environmental, and intrapersonal risk factors for smoking.

“As this study reinforces, we have a real problem on our hands,” said AHA CEO Nancy Brown in a statement. “This new study truly underscores just how dangerous of a habit e-cigarette use can be, especially if it is leading to teens taking up additional tobacco products.”

In the last year, e-cigarette use has tripled among middle and high school students, surpassing traditional cigarettes and every other tobacco product, according to an April report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 2 million high school students – 13.4 percent — smoked e-cigarettes, according to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey. Among middle school students, e-cigarette use more than tripled, from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014, an increase from about 120,000 to 450,000 students.

In April 2014, the FDA proposed new rules to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors and require health warnings on nicotine-delivery devices.  The agency has not yet issued the rule.

“The JAMA study underscores why the FDA and the White House must act now to protect our kids and finalize a long-overdue rule to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,” wrote Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids wrote in a statement. “This rule must be issued without further delay, and it must extend to e-cigarettes the same restrictions on youth-oriented marketing and flavors that currently apply to regular cigarettes.”

“These findings are yet another wake-up call to the Food and Drug Administration that final regulations are needed now to protect our kids from tobacco,” said Brown. “As this study suggests, the public health nightmare that is tobacco is only getting worse and all tobacco products present risk. Federal oversight of these products will go a long way in the fight against tobacco by helping to combat the tobacco industry’s efforts to foster a new generation of users.”