E-cigarette and other tobacco alternatives became increasingly popular since its introduction to the market as a tobacco alternative. However, researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center said that these alternative tobacco products prove to be one challenge in the ongoing war against tobacco use.
The goal of the research study was to evaluate whether the use of water pipe tobacco and other tobacco alternative products among non-smokers are at risk for successive cigarette smoking, especially among young adults and adolescents.
Dr. Michael Weitzman, a professor of Pediatrics and of Environmental Medicine at NYU Langone, and Dr. Stephen M. Amrock, an intern in internal medicine at the University of Oregon, published the result of their research in the Journal of the American Medical Associations (JAMA). The published report contains the result of their study in the United States, which involves 2,541 individuals ages 15 to 23 years old from the U.S.
The researchers conducted a two-wave longitudinal study. The first wave happened from October 2010 to June 2011 wherein they established that the respondents have smoked water pipe tobacco, used snus or smoked cigarettes. From October 2012 to March 2013, they checked on the respondents again whether or not the participants have subsequently tried cigarette smoking for the past 30 days.
The result: among 1,596 participants, 1048 individuals have never smoke cigarettes before the study started. The result of the study presented that the use of alternative tobacco products like water pipes or hookahs among teens and young adults are more likely to use tobacco products later. And comprehensive regulation on such tobacco products could limit and control future cigarette smoking among the young people later.
While most people believed that alternative tobacco products are safer to use and will lead the users away from actual cigarette smoking, the evidence from the study showed otherwise. As reported by the Science Daily, Dr. Weitzman stated, “Other researchers have demonstrated that a typical 45 minute hookah session is equivalent to smoking as many as five packs of cigarettes.”
Dr. J. Taylor Hays mentioned in his article in Mayo Clinic, “Hookah smoke contains high levels of toxic compounds, including tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens). In fact, hookah smokers are exposed to more carbon monoxide and smoke than are cigarette smokers.”
E-cigarettes is another tobacco alternative that allows the users to inhale a vapor or aerosol that contains nicotine or other substances. Since e-cigarette is unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is not established whether this product, which comes with 7,700 flavors to choose from, is safe.