Nicotine Linked to Increased Risk of Substance Use and Addiction,
Especially in Young People
NEW YORK, N.Y., October 22, 2015 - A new report released today by CASAColumbia reveals that alternative, non-combustible products that contain nicotine, but not tobacco, are not harmless, particularly for young people. Nicotine remains one of the most addictive and potent substances, regardless of whether it is delivered through a combustible cigarette, electronic cigarette, vape pen, hookah pipe or cigar.
, Understanding and Addressing Nicotine Addiction: A Science-Based Approach to Policy and Practice
, demonstrates that electronic cigarettes and other nicotine products are increasingly being used by young people, many of whom have never smoked traditional cigarettes and who have expressed no interest in doing so. It also shows that there is no evidence of nicotine's safety in young people, but there is evidence that its use is associated with an increased risk of other substance use and addiction.
"It is alarming that e-cigarette use has seen a three-fold increase over one year among middle and high school students," said Samuel A. Ball, PhD, President and CEO of CASAColumbia. "This report highlights that these products are not safe for young people. E-cigarettes and other devices that contain nicotine promote dependence on one of the most addictive and easily available drugs. Exotic flavors can attract young people to vaping, and the added chemicals in the flavors may be harmful when inhaled."
The authors of the report call upon policymakers to take action on nicotine product regulation and to fund more research on the health and safety of nicotine products. Although electronic cigarettes may be safer for those with nicotine addiction who have been unsuccessful in quitting cigarette smoking, these products have not been proven safe. Unlike FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy, which is a safe and potentially effective smoking cessation method in adults, there is no strong evidence that electronic cigarettes and similar products are effective smoking cessation aids. There is some evidence that they might actually perpetuate cigarette smoking. Research shows that these products frequently are used in conjunction with cigarettes, rather than as a substitute for cigarettes, which increases the user's exposure to nicotine.
"Our findings show that a science-based approach to the regulation of all nicotine-containing products is required," said Linda Richter, PhD, Director of Policy Research and Analysis at CASAColumbia and the report's lead author. "It's time for the FDA, as well as state and local governments, to act to protect young people from the harms of nicotine and other addictive substances. That non-cigarette nicotine products are safer than cigarettes is not in dispute. But if we wait for all the evidence regarding their long-term harms and benefits to come in before we act, countless young people will get hooked on nicotine, a highly addictive drug."
Highlights of the report include:
- Evidence regarding the prevalence of nicotine use and addiction
- The effects of nicotine on the brain and body
- Risk factors for nicotine addiction and the groups most at risk
- Current prevention and treatment efforts and the implications of this research for policymakers and health care providers
CASAColumbia is a national nonprofit research and policy organization focused on improving the understanding, prevention and treatment of substance use and addiction. Founded in 1992 by former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, Joseph A. Califano, Jr., our interdisciplinary experts collaborate with others to promote effective policies and practices. We conduct and synthesize research, inform and guide the public, evaluate and improve health care, and analyze and recommend policies on substance use and addiction. For more information, visitwww.CASAColumbia.org