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As Teen Use Rises, Study Finds Vaping Damages Lungs

Those who used vaping products were 1.3 times more likely to contract a respiratory disease when compared to those who didn’t use tobacco, according to the study.

The first long-term study conducted on e-cigarette and vaping products didn’t give users the reassurance they might have wanted. Though vaping manufactures claim using the product is “safer” than conventional tobacco products like cigarettes, it doesn’t answer whether vaping is safe at all. But now, researchers have determined that e-cigarette products are, in fact, damaging to lungs.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that the worst offense was smoking traditional cigarettes and vaping nicotine simultaneously. The behavior, which the study found to be common, significantly raised a user’s risk of experiencing lung complications.

Those who used vaping products were 1.3 times as likely to contract a respiratory disease when compared to those who didn’t use tobacco, according to the study. Those who smoked cigarettes, meanwhile, were 2.5 times more at risk than nonsmokers.

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Representing the first longitudinal study into the effects of e-cigarette and vaping products, the research was conducted by scientists at UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research. They collected data from users between 2013 and 2016, examining that vaping and smoking increased the risk of asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and COPD.

The report also found vaping did not aid tobacco users in quitting. Only 9% of tobacco users fully transitioned into only e-cigarette users. However, a whopping 91.2% of those who vaped were still smoking some kind of traditional tobacco product by the end of the three-year study. Those who both smoked traditional tobacco and vaped were 3.3 times at risk to develop the aforementioned respiratory diseases.

“Although switching from combustible tobacco, including cigarettes, to e-cigarettes theoretically could reduce the risk of developing respiratory disease, current evidence indicates a high prevalence of dual use, which is associated with increased risk beyond combustible tobacco use,” the study’s authors wrote.

“In addition, for most smokers, using an e-cigarette is associated with lower odds of successfully quitting smoking.”

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The study coincides with a new report from the Monitoring the Future poll from the National Institutes of Health, which reported rising rates of adolescent vaping use. According to that poll, teenagers vaping had more than doubled in the past year. In the past year, 20.8% of 12th graders were vaping users and 19.4% of 10th graders. Most startling, the poll found 7% of 8th graders used e-cigarette products.

However, the poll also found continued declining rates in prescription opioid misuse, alcohol, and traditional tobacco products.

“We are heartened to see the continuing decline in the use of many drugs, particularly non-medical use of prescription opioids; however, teens are clearly attracted to vaping products, which are often concentrated amounts of drugs disguised as electronic gadgets,” NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow said in a statement. “Their growing popularity threatens to undo years of progress protecting the health of adolescents in the U.S.”

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