A new study from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles is giving us a closer look at teen vaping habits. Researchers wanted to know if outside factors influenced teens to use ecigarettes. Ultimately, they found that young people are more likely to vape if their friends and family approve. It’s no big shocker that peer pressure is often the deciding factor in the choice teenagers make.
The lead-author of the study, Jessica Barrington-Trimis, said, “There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes.” In earlier studies, researchers noticed that many teen vapers were former or current tobacco users. However, Barrington-Trimis said her research shows that some teens are using ecigs even if they have never picked up a cigarette before. “If you think of e-cigarette and cigarette use as two circles, the overlap isn’t as big as expected,” she said.
Researchers conducted this study using data from a 2014 survey of over 2,000 teens in Southern California. Around 25 percent reported trying an e-cigarette and 20 percent reported trying a regular cigarette. When questioned about their current habits in the last 30 days, about 10 percent had vaped and six percent had smoked.
Teens seemed to be more likely to vape or smoke if their parents, friends, or peers were using ecigs or cigarettes. It seems that those that use e-cigs tended to believe they weren’t harmful. Around 14 percent thought using ecigs wouldn’t harm them, while only one percent thought cigarettes were harmless.
Young people also reported that their friends were more likely to accept their vaping habit than smoking. Teens know that smoking is dangerous and there seems to be a stigma about cigarettes even in youth. However, teens are not as quick to condemn a friend for vaping.
Barrington-Trimis encouraged parents to have honest conversations with teenagers about ecigarettes and tobacco products. She believes that teens using ecigs are at risk, even if the vaping products are tobacco-free. “Parents should just be aware if their teens are hanging out with others who are using these products,” she said.
It’s really not surprising that peer pressure influences whether teens using ecigs. Do you think parents should be concerned if they see their child’s friends using ecigarettes? What advice would you give your teen about vaping?