A new USC study debunks the popular belief that electronic cigarettes are merely a substitute for cigarettes among teens. Instead, the study suggests that some teens who never would have smoked cigarettes are now vaping.

In 2011, about 1.5% of high schoolers had vaped in the past 30 days, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey. Four years later, that number skyrocketed to 16%.

A USC study of 5,490 high school juniors and seniors shows tobacco use among teens in Southern California is on the rise. In 2014, about 14% of 12th-graders said they had either smoked or vaped in the previous month – nearly a 60% increase in the past decade.

The study, published on July 11 in the journal Pediatrics, followed five groups of high schoolers who graduated in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2014. Researchers collected the history of tobacco use in an individually administered questionnaire.

  • Cigarette initiation during follow-up was reported by 40.4% of e-cigarette users and 10.5% of never users.
  • E-cigarette users had 6.17 times the odds of initiating cigarettes as never e-cigarette users.
  • E-cigarette users were also more likely to initiate use of any combustible product (OR 4.98), including hookah, cigars, or pipes.

Read more at keck.usc.edu