A latest study published in JAMA Pediatrics regarding the use of e-cigarettes has revealed the likelihood of respiratory symptoms developing among its teenage users.
The study drew data from over 45,000 Hong Kong school children with an average of 15 years old between 2012 and 2013, per Reuters. The researchers learned that at least 19 percent of its respondents had respiratory symptoms and about 1.1 percent of these students smoked e-cigarettes for 30 days while the study was done.
About 30 percent of those who used an e-cigarette device to smoke revealed breathing problems compared to those who are not e-cigarette users. On the other hand, some 40 percent of teenage smokers -- of both traditional and e-cigarette device -- showed respiratory symptoms compared to those who have never smoked anything at all.
The researchers found out that there's a glaring difference in breathing problems among teenagers who said they never smoked traditional cigarettes but are using e-cigarettes. The symptoms include cough and phlegm, but also vary with each teenager.
"Among never smoking adolescents, e-cigarette users are twice as likely to report respiratory symptoms as non-users," said Dr. Daniel Ho, the lead study author from the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health. He also cited that long term use of e-cigarettes could lead to the emergence of serious health problems.
Ho and his team did the study to look into the effects of e-cigarette smoking among adolescents as several studies in the past only concentrated on the effects of the device among adults. "Other studies have also shown that adolescent e-cigarette users are more likely to initiate cigarette smoking than non-users," said Ho. "One in two smokers will be killed by tobacco; two in three if started from a young age."
E-cigarettes emit nicotine through a vapor that contains flavored chemicals. Per Huffington Post, the flavor is very appealing to many teenagers and its use is becoming more common among teens in the United States as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes this problem and thus, initiated guidelines to regulate the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers under its Tobacco Free Initiative.
WHO recommended that concerned agencies must designate "smoke-free" policies in its 2014 report to ensure that smoking among teenagers is "denormalize." This can be done by providing incentives to quitting the vice or reducing visual cues and norms that make teenagers vulnerable to smoking. The organization also pointed out that e-cigarette devices are marketed as a safer choice to traditional smoking when studies have proven the contrary.