E-cigarettes are marketed as being a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, but emerging research shows that the products are not without risk. A new study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center suggests that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try other drugs, such as cocaine and marijuana. Electronic cigarettes are intended to help adults quit conventional cigarettes, but they are becoming more popular in teens and young adults.
Denise B. Kandel, PhD, is co-author of the study and professor of sociomedical sciences (in psychiatry), Department of Psychiatry and Mailman School of Public Health, at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). “While e-cigarettes do eliminate some of the health effects associated with combustible tobacco, they are pure nicotine-delivery devices,” she stated in a news release.
The other author is Eric R. Kandel, MD, University Professor and Kavli Professor of Brain Science, co-director of the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Science, and senior investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at CUMC, the news release states. In 2000, he won a shared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. He stated in the release that “”E-cigarettes have the same physiological effects on the brain and may pose the same risk of addiction to other drugs as regular cigarettes, especially in adolescence during a critical period of brain development. We don’t yet know whether e-cigarettes will prove to be a gateway to the use of conventional cigarettes and illicit drugs, but that’s certainly a possibility,”
The Kandels presented the findings to the Massachusetts Medical Society, and published the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.