Hidden Consequence E-cigs

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Electronic cigarettes or E-cigs, have become popular in recent years for a variety of reasons.
Some tout the tobacco free alternative as a way to lower cancer risk.  Others claim it’s less addictive and less risk of lung disease.  These claims have been investigated via long term studies.

There are also risks of much higher nicotine ingestion than traditional (tobacco based) cigarettes leading to nicotine toxicity (1).
A recent small study, by Barrington-Trimis and colleagues, suggest another unexpected consequence of e-cigarette use (2).
Who was studied?
300 students,  in the 11th or 12th grade (2).
What was the study design? (2)
  • Questionnaires were given in the 11th or 12th grade, and again after they turned 18 years old.
  • Some questions included whether they use e-cigarettes, traditional (tobacco) cigarettes, whether they  smoke tobacco based cigarettes now or intend to do so in the future.
What were the results?  (2)
  • 40% of participants who reported e-cigarette use at the beginning of the study ended up using traditional (tobacco) cigarettes by age 18, vs only 11% of students who never used e-cigarettes.
  • After adjusting for different variables,  e-cigarette users were over 5 times as likely to initiate traditional smoking as those who had never used e-cigarettes.
  • The e-cigarette users who reported having no intention of smoking traditional (tobacco) cigarettes at the beginning of the study had a 9.7 x odds ratio of using traditional cigarettes by the end of the study.
What do the results mean?
  • According to this study, smoking e-cigarettes might increase your chances of smoking tobacco based cigarettes.
  • This is concerning because of the variety of negative mental health and physical consequences of tobacco use.
  • Smoking cigarettes can increase depression and anxiety (3,4).
Is e-cigarettes worth the feelings of anxiety, depression, and tiredness? Will you feel better if you exchange it for healthier ways of living?
What are some resources regarding tobacco use?
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.
1. Ordonez J, Forrester MB, Kleinschmidt K. Electronic cigarette exposures reported to poison centers. Clin Toxicology 2013;51:685
2. Barrington-Trimis JL, Urman R, Berhane K, et al. E-Cigarettes and Future Cigarette Use. Pediatrics. 2016; 138(1):e20160379
3. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/04/15/does-smoking-increase-anxiety-and-depression-if-i-quit-will-i-feel-better/
4. Taylor G, et al. Change in mental health after smoking cessation: systematic review and meta-analysis. OPEN ACCESS. BMJ 2014;348:g1151 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g1151 (Published 13 February 2014)