Does your teen smoke hookah for fun? Beware, because young people who try non-cigarette tobacco products are more likely to pick up a cigarette later, according to a new report.
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Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, to determine if non-cigarette tobacco use can initiate subsequent cigarette smoking.
To do so, they surveyed more than 10,000 kids, aged 12 to 17, who had never smoked cigarettes. The questionnaire asked the participants if they had used electronic cigarettes, hookahs, non-cigarette combustible tobacco or smokeless tobacco.
After one year, they assessed the subjects again and found that teens who had tried a non-cigarette tobacco product were twice as likely to try conventional cigarettes a year later, compared to those hadn’t used non-cigarette tobacco products.
Furthermore, those who had used more than one type of product were nearly four times as likely to try cigarettes a year later.
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"In light of these observed associations between non-cigarette tobacco use and future smoking, novel tobacco products have the potential to undermine public health gains in combating the smoking epidemic," coauthor Benjamin Chaffee said in a statement.
That’s why scientists are now tasking officials with implementing strategies that prevent the youth from smoking not just cigarettes but other tobacco products as well.
“In policy terms, the findings provide a rationale to treat alternative cigarette products as a group and potentially extend policies that work for one product to the others, such as a ban on flavoring.” Chaffee said. “Even if youths do not progress to smoking cigarettes, any tobacco use is harmful.”
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com