PhotoThe popularity of e-cigarettes continues to rise for teens across the U.S. Middle and high school students are glorifying habits like vaping, and many still believe that the products don’t pose much of an immediate threat to their health.

While different studies have disagreed over that fact, new findings from the University of Southern California suggest that the health of young users may be at serious risk in the short- and long-term. The reason, the authors say, is that e-cigarette use and vaping can be associated with an increased frequency of smoking and heavier smoking habits overall.

Heavier smoking patterns

Dr. Adam M. Leventhal and his colleagues came to their conclusions after analyzing surveys given to 10th grade students in ten public high schools in Los Angeles County between 2014 and 2015. Questions focused on the frequency and heaviness of e-cigarette and cigarette use, as well as vaping habits. A follow-up survey was given six months later to gauge any changes.

The analysis found that students that smoked or vaped at the time when they took the first survey were more likely to increase their e-cigarette smoking frequency by the time the second survey was taken. Similarly, the researchers found that adolescents who smoked cigarettes were more likely to increase their smoking frequency and heaviness if they also vaped; this was especially true for infrequent smokers.

The researchers believe these findings speak to the need for stronger tobacco control policies, though they admit that more research will need to be conducted to verify the results. The full study has been published in JAMA

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