Teens who consume alcohol also use e-cigarettes, study shows

SALT LAKE CITY - A new study shows Utah teens who drink are also vaping, or use electronic cigarettes, more than conventional cigarettes.

The 2015 study, conducted by The Utah Department of Health, the Utah Department of Human Services and the Utah Department of Education, compared eighth graders, sophomores and seniors and their usage of alcohol and e-cigarettes.

The study showed those who consumed alcohol in the last 30 days, about 23 percent also used e-cigarettes, while only 13 percent smoked regular cigarettes.

“To see just a strong correlation I think that surprised us only because it’s not something we looked at before,” said UDOH’s Tobacco Prevention and Control media liaison, Brittany Karzen.

Karzen said the nicotine in e-cigarettes is just as addicting.

“It can affect behaviors,” Karzen said. “It affects your ability to learn and it can also hardwire the brain for addiction later in life.”

However, Aaron Frazier, executive director of Utah Smoke Free Association, an organization that promotes vaping and wants smokers to leave tobacco cigarettes behind, said there is no evidence of e-cigarette’s nicotine being as addictive.

“The tobacco companies very deliberately formulate the tobacco to be highly addictive, it’s like main lining heroin if you will,” Frazier said. “It’s the quickest way to get into your bloodstream. These products don’t have all these other ingredients and all of those other properties that make them as addictive. It’s actually never been proven that vaping products are truly addictive in it of themselves.”

Frazier said a smoker is addicted to more than just the nicotine he wants those on a pathway to quit to switch to vaping.

However, he doesn’t want teens smoking, vaping or drinking.

“Why are we not doing stiffer penalties to try and discourage underage usage?” Frazier questioned.

He would like to see that issue taken up at the legislature.