E-cigarette use among adolescents: Controversies and challenges for future research
As e-cigarette use increases rapidly, it is important to examine its appeal, influence and effects among adolescents. Evidence shows that adolescents using e-cigarettes are at higher risk to initiate and/or continue using tobacco and cannabis. E-cigarettes have been promoted in multiple ways by the media as a healthier alternative to smoking and some studies present benefits of its use when compared to combustible cigarette smoking. On the other hand, numerous studies on adolescent populations point out the negative biological effects of e-cigarettes due to chemical substances that some of their products contain, as well as its sociological and emotional effects. In 2012, the United States Centre of Disease Control and Prevention estimated that e-cigarette use doubled among middle and high school students. In Greece, significant changes in smoking behaviors have been observed during the past few years, possibly as a combined result of the implemented tobacco control and austerity measures. A study among Greek adolescents reported that in 2015 39% of 16 year-old high school pupils nationwide had smoked cigarettes at least once in their lifetime, while 13% were regular smokers (1). Another study reported that half of the population of 15 year-old Greek pupils who have used combustible cigarettes have also tried e-cigarettes (2). In the present paper we review literature regarding e-cigarette use during adolescence and discuss some key issues, such as probable reasons for the initiation and/or continuation of its use, as well as its physical, emotional and social effects. Finally, we present some public health measures that have been proposed aiming at controlling e-cigarette use among adolescents.
Key words: adolescents, smoking, e-cigarette, vaporizer, vaping.