Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Vaping: friend or foe?

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E-cigarettes may be a potential pathway to quitting for smokers, but for many young people, that path moves in the opposite direction. Middle- and high-schoolers are up to three times more likely to vape than to smoke. Yet, once they start vaping, nearly one in three will start smoking in the next six months. Compare that with just one in 10 non-vaping teens who will become a smoker in the next six months.

A study led by Dr. Carla Berg, associate professor of behavioral sciences and health education and associate director for population sciences at Winship Cancer Institute, is following the market closely to understand the role that retailers play in getting the products into the hands and lungs of young people. “How do you brand and market a product so that it only appeals to a population that could potentially benefit from it—smokers—without marketing it toward a population—youth—that will absolutely not get any benefit from it? That’s the question,” says Berg.

Berg’s research team visited 180 retailers, including convenience stores and dedicated vape shops to examine the extent to which young people are the targets of e-cigarette sales and advertising and what’s happening at the point-of-sale that might discourage or encourage young people to take up the habit.

The team’s findings could help inform FDA regulations intended to restrict youth access to the products.—Sonya Collins

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