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UCSF Study Shows E-Cigarettes A Youth Gateway To Regular Smoking, Nicotine Addiction

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Electronic cigarettes, which have been touted as way to help regular cigarette smokers kick the habit, may be driving young people toward traditional smoking and nicotine addiction, according to new study by the University of California, San Francisco.

UCSF researchers Dr. Lauren Dutra and Dr. Stanton Glantz found adolescents who used e-cigarettes were more likely to smoke cigarettes and less likely to quit smoking.

Their study also found e-cigarette use among middle and high school students doubled between 2011 and 2012, from 3.1 percent to 6.5 percent.

Dutra said that e-cigarettes are likely to be gateway devices for nicotine addiction among youth and a new market for the tobacco industry, according to the UCSF website. "Despite claims that e-cigarettes are helping people quit smoking, we found that e-cigarettes were associated with more, not less, cigarette smoking among adolescents," Dutra said.

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that often look like traditional cigarettes and simulate tobacco smoking by vaporizing a liquid mixture which can contain nicotine and flavorings. It is believed that e-cigarettes are safer and have fewer toxic effects than smoking tobacco, but use of e-cigarettes and their ingredients are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Local governments and other entities have moved to place restrictions on e-cigarette smoking, similar to those on regular smoking.

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that most U.S. adolescents who have smoked e-cigarettes also have smoked regular cigarettes, with an estimated 1.78 million students having used the devices as of 2012.

The UCSF study was published in the March 6th issue of the JAMA Pediatrics.

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