E-cigs catching on in Connecticut schools, new study shows

One in four Connecticut high school students surveyed report having tried an e-cigarette, a Yale-led study has found.

The Yale study provides one of the first comprehensive evaluations of e-cigarette use among Connecticut youth.

“We were surprised so many kids were using these products,” said Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, associate professor in psychiatry and lead author of the study, which appeared Dec. 9 in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. “The other thing which both surprised and worried me is that adolescents who have never smoked cigarettes are initiating use of e-cigarettes.”

The survey about use of e-cigarettes was conducted in four Connecticut high schools and two state middle schools. Among middle school students, 3.5% reported having tried e-cigarettes. Half of those middle school students say e-cigarettes are the first tobacco product they have used. Among students who had never tried an e-cigarette, 26% indicated that they might use it in the future.

Manufacturers have touted e-cigarettes as safer alternatives to smoking because they have fewer chemical additives than cigarettes and are not inhaled as smoke. Some health officials have argued that current cigarette smokers would be better off switching to e-cigarettes. Other health officials caution there may be other health hazards to e-cigarettes, and those who use them will be more likely to take up cigarette smoking later. 

The study represents just a snapshot in time and does not answer those questions.

“We need more research not only about the product’s safety, but how it is being used,” said Krishnan-Sarin.

Other Yale authors are Meghan Morean, Deepa Camenga, Dana Cavallo and Grace Kong.

Research reported in this publication was supported by grant number P50 DA09241 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).

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