• Children's Center

    Mayo Clinic Minute: Is vaping a gateway to smoking?

An annual survey by the Minnesota Department of Health recently revealed that 1 in 5 high school students use e-cigarettes. The survey also showed youth tobacco use is rising for the first time in 17 years. Are the two connected?

Jason Howland has more in this Mayo Clinic Minute.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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The use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, by teens is rapidly on the rise ─ nearly a 50 percent increase in just four years. And health officials believe it’s creating more tobacco smokers.

"I think the data is pretty clear so far, in the limited studies we have, that it looks like it is a gateway for youth smoking," says Dr. Taylor Hays, director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center.

Dr. Hays says teens who have never smoked a cigarette are three to four times more likely to start smoking in the future if they use e-cigarettes.

"We know that kids who start vaping using e-cigarettes are more likely to use combustible tobacco cigarettes later," he says.

Dr. Hays says he’s concerned that vaping appears to be reversing a long-term trend of declining teen tobacco use. He says 6–7 million people from around the world die every year from smoking.

"If the current trends of smoking prevalence continue across the world, we’ll reach 1 billion smoking-related deaths in this century."

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