Teens more likely to try cigarettes a year after using other tobacco products

Teenagers who try a noncigarette tobacco product are more likely to try traditional cigarettes within a year than those who haven’t, according to study published in the January issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

The researchers found that 19 percent of those who used e-cigarettes tried cigarettes within the year; 18.3 percent of hookah users; 19.2 percent of smokeless tobacco users. Among the teenagers who didn’t use tobacco-related products, 4.6 percent tried smoking a cigarette.

Researchers said that multiple factors could explain their study’s findings. For example, non-tobacco cigarette products might induce nicotine dependence, which has been reported by youths who use cigars and smokeless tobacco. In addition, the use of noncigarette tobacco could change their perception of cigarettes.

 “Youths who use any tobacco product may be at greater risk of initiating cigarette smoking,” researchers said. They added that cigarette use is a meaningful outcome because nicotine dependence can manifest in teenagers soon after their first puff.

However, whether its cigarettes or an alternative, there are no such thing as a healthy tobacco, according to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website.  Many noncigarette alternatives are often marketed as healthier alternatives to smoking, but tobacco is harmful to your oral health and overall health.

Cigarettes and other alternatives are harmful to a person’s oral health, according to MouthHealthy.org. Oral health impacts of smoking and all tobacco products include stained teeth and tongue; dulled sense of taste and smell; slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery; difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems; gum disease; and oral cancer.

For more information on smoking and noncigarette alternatives, visit MouthHealthy.org.

© 2018 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tobacco's greatest threat to your health may be its association with oral cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that:

  • About 90 percent of people with mouth cancer and some types of throat cancer have used tobacco. The risk of developing these cancers increases as people smoke or chew more often or for a longer time.

  • Smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop these cancers.

  • About 37 percent of patients who continue to smoke after cancer treatment will develop second cancers of the mouth, throat or larynx. While only 6 percent of people who quit smoking will develop these secondary cancers.

  • Smokeless tobacco has been linked to cancers of the cheek, gums and inner surface of the lips. Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by nearly 50 times.7