Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Teen use of e-cigarettes may be regarded as no big deal, much like cigarettes before them. But researchers say those who vape are more likely to use other substances.
Young people who vape are 3.5 times more likely to smoke marijuana later in life, according to research published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
"Last year alone, rates of e-cigarette use (vaping) have increased by nearly 80 percent among high school students," Nicholas Chadi, who led the research team at Boston Children's Hospital, told UPI in an email.
For their work, the researchers analyzed 21 studies that examined e-cigarette use in more than 128,00 people between ages 10 and 24. They found that youth between ages 12 and 17 who used e-cigarettes had four times the risk of going on to smoke pot than those between ages 18 and 24.
E-cigarette use has been linked to a variety of health risks, including cardiovascular risk and lung damage. The Food and Drug Administration has also taken 35 reports of seizures connected to vaping over the last decade, raising further concerns about health risks linked to the devices.
While recreational marijuana is legal in 11 states, and medicinal marijuana is legal in even more, it still comes with its own potential dangers. Daily use of high potency pot has been "highly linked" to psychosis.
"These findings matter to patients because e-cigarettes are often considered benign or harmless by youth and their families," Chadi said. "What this study suggests is that e-cigarettes (most of which contain nicotine) should be considered harmful, in a similar way as other substances like alcohol and tobacco (which have also been associated with increased marijuana use)."