TIME Addiction

Teen E-Cigs Smokers More Likely to Turn to Cigarettes: Study

New research suggests e-cigarette use among young people could be a gateway to conventional smoking

Teenagers who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to report using conventional tobacco products like cigarettes, hookah and cigars, new research suggests.

Researchers looked at 2,530 students from 10 Los Angeles public schools. They asked the teenagers about their smoking and vaping activities and found that teens who had used e-cigarettes were more likely to report using tobacco products over the next year compared to teens who had never used e-cigarettes. The findings were published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

The researchers cannot conclude from their data that using e-cigarettes leads a teen to use other tobacco products. More research is needed to determine if the link is causal. However, they suggest it’s unlikely that the number of teens who use both e-cigarettes and other tobacco products can be entirely attributed to teens already smoking and then trying e-cigarettes later on. “These results raise the possibility that the association between e-cigarette and combustible tobacco use initiation may be bidirectional in early adolescence,” the authors write.

MORE: E-cigs Are the New Cool Thing for Teenagers

Some view e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to tobacco. However, both e-cigarettes and tobacco products contain nicotine, which is addictive, and some research shows that e-cig flavors are dangerous and that the devices, too, produce potentially dangerous byproducts when heated. Since data suggests that teenagers are increasingly using e-cigarettes, some public health experts are worried.

“Adolescents may be especially susceptible to develop nicotine addiction after e-cigarette exposure because their brains are still developing and are particularly sensitive to nicotine,” writes Dr. Nancy A. Rigotti of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in a corresponding editorial.

The researchers also note teens may be more likely to use e-cigarettes before other combustible tobacco products due to a perception that they are not harmful or addictive. The fact that e-cigarettes are sold in different flavors can be attractive to young people, the authors argue, and in some cases it remains easy for teens to get access to them due to a lack of regulation.

 

TIME Addiction

Green Tea Cigarettes Are Now a Thing

Package of Billy55 Green Tea Cigarette
Courtesy Billy55 Billy55's regular green tea cigarettes

The manufacturer hopes the 100% green tea, no-nicotine cigarettes can be used to quit smoking

This is This Is Now A Thing, where we check out the science behind new health trends.

The thing: Billy55 is a new company that has created a cigarette made purely of green tea—with no nicotine. While new in America, it’s been commonplace in Vietnam for at least a few decades, which is where acupuncturist and Billy55 founder Ranko Tutulugdzija found it.

As an acupuncturist, Tutulugdzija said he had lots of patients trying to find a natural way to quit smoking, and he remembered seeing green tea cigarettes—rolled green tea leaves with no nicotine in them. The idea? “Get the smoker to have the same sensation as smoking,” Tutulugdzija told TIME. “They don’t feel as guilty and they have more motivation to stop.”

The cigarettes, named after Tutulugdzija’s mother Biljana—referred to as “Billy”—come in regular and menthol varieties and are made out of tea originating from Nanjing and Beijing in China. They cost $2.50 per pack.

The hype: Green tea cigarettes are part of a three-step, 90-day smoking cessation method developed by Tutulugdzija. It’s an “all-natural” program that includes taping five mustard seeds onto acupressure points that Tutulugdzija says can help you quit.

Following the program, Tutulugdzija says, will eventually “downgrade” the addiction to a habit. “Habits are much easier to break than addiction,” he says. “If you smoke green tea, you don’t have a chemical [nicotine] working on your neuroreceptors to cause addiction. There’s a big difference between something with nicotine and something without it.”

The research: The FDA denied TIME’s request for comment, saying it “does not discuss the regulatory status of specific products except with the firms and individuals that are responsible for such products.”

CDC spokesperson Joel London said that while research hasn’t been done into green tea cigarettes specifically, a combination of counseling and medication has been proven to be most effective in kicking a smoking habit to the curb.

Donna Richardson, a clinical social worker and addictions specialist with Rutgers University’s Tobacco Dependence Program, agrees. She said most addictions experts use one of the seven methods approved by the FDA, five of which include nicotine (the gum, patch, lozenges, nasal spray, an inhaler). “It’s the nicotine people smoke for,” she says. “There’s a dopamine release that happens with each puff. So if they’re smoking tea, they’re not getting dopamine, and they’d still be in withdrawal.”

Richardson says the key to quitting smoking doesn’t mean quitting nicotine cold turkey. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Smoking—”no matter if it’s lettuce or tea or rolled-up newspaper”—is the harmful act. That’s because the act of setting something on fire releases carbon monoxide, and breathing that carbon monoxide in, no matter what the source, infiltrates red blood cells, which should be taking in oxygen instead. “Our lungs don’t like polluted air,” she says.

For his part, Tutulugdzija says it has been only two months since his company began testing the efficacy of the product for quitters, but that “we’re getting positive feedback.”

Regarding the healthfulness of his product, Tutulugdzija says, “There’s no such thing as ‘healthy’ smoking.”

The taste: Two social smokers at TIME tried the menthol and plain varieties of green-tea cigarettes, which were harder to light than normal cigarettes. The two testers discerned almost no flavor, but the inhaled smoke did make the testers feel lightheaded. The menthol type was slightly minty, but it, too, lacked any expected, discernible green tea or herbal flavor. Tutulugdzija describes the flavor this way: “They don’t taste like a cigarette, but there’s a green tea scent.”

The bottom line: Dr. Michael Steinberg, who heads the Rutgers Dependence Program, says this: “It’s probably not the safest way to try to quit smoking and there’s no strong scientific evidence it helps to quit.”

Steinberg acknowledges that green tea cigarettes may address a behavioral component that makes quitting smoking challenging, but thinks the oral fixation is better off handled with toothpicks, cinnamon sticks, or something else that doesn’t emit smoke.

Richardson echoes Steinberg’s skepticism. “I wouldn’t have anyone I care about smoking green tea cigarettes to quit,” she said.

Read Next: Fat Water Is Now A Thing

Listen to the most important stories of the day

Correction: An earlier version of this story included a definition of cigarettes misattributed to the FDA. It was included in error and has been removed.

TIME Australia

Vegemite is a ‘Precursor to Misery’ in Australia

Vegemite
Graham Denholm—Getty Images Jars of Vegemite are seen during a press call to celebrate the Vegemite brand's 90th year at the Vegemite factory in Melbourne on Oct. 24, 2013.

Government officials are recommending the uniquely Australian product be restricted

Vegemite—the seemingly innocent, salty spread that elicits both patriotic worship and vitriolic hatred in the food’s native Australia—might be being used to make moonshine. The situation is so bad that Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion called the food a “precursor to misery.”

Scullion recommended that the Australian government restrict Vegemite sales because its base—brewer’s yeast—was being used in bulk to make moonshine, according to the BBC.

Vegemite is a a dark brown paste made from brewer’s yeast, vegetables, and spice additives often used on top of toast. It’s nutritiously dense and affordable, with a rich, smoky flavor that’s often described as “umami.”

Many Australian indigenous communities face high addiction rates, and booze is banned in these communities to combat alcoholism. “Our priority has always been to get kids to school, make communities safer and get people into jobs. Businesses in these communities … have a responsibility to report any purchase that may raise their own suspicions,” Scullion said.

Despite Vegemite’s quirky history of being a wartime replacement for Marmite, its transformation into booze has some serious consequences: Scullion noted that children were failing to show up to school from Vegemite-moonshine hangovers, and the ale derived from moonshine has been cited as an instigator in some domestic violence cases. The Sydney Morning Herald reported some people buying up to 20 jars at a time.

The proposed Vegemite ban has drawn some critics, including Dr. John Boffa of the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition. “We’re talking about an isolated problem in a couple of communities around a very large nation, and a nation where there is a very large number of Aboriginal communities, and every community is different,” Boffa told the BBC.

TIME E-Cigarettes

E-Cigarettes May Be Just As Addictive As Cigarettes

e-cigarette-nicotine-vaping-smoking-cigarette
Victor de Schwanber / Getty Images A person "vapes," or smokes an e-cigarette.

The most addictive form of nicotine commonly found in cigarettes is often the same as the one found in cigarettes.

Vapers—or e-cigarette smokers—aren’t any safer from developing addiction, finds a new study released Thursday.

The basis of the pro-vaping argument has been that e-cigarettes don’t contain the harmful chemicals in and byproducts of tobacco cigarettes. There’s nicotine, to be sure, but not all nicotine is the same. Vaping proponents have said that the type found in cigarettes is a highly addictive form, and the type of nicotine in e-cigarettes is less addicting.

“This perception [of e-cigs being safer] stems from the fact that e-cigs are electrically powered devices that heat and vaporize a nicotine-containing flavored liquid to produce an inhalable aerosol, without involving combustion and presumably much of the exposure to combustion-related toxicants,” such as carbon monoxide and nitric oxide, the authors wrote.

But a new study, published in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Research in Toxicology, indicates that nine out of 17 common, commercially available e-cigarettes contained the most addictive kind of nicotine.

Critics have long held that e-cigs contain ingredients that make them essentially a cigarette in terms of addictive power. There is also evidence that e-cigs may not be an effective means to quitting (some research shows that 75% of Americans who vape also smoke).

TIME Addiction

‘Very Light’ Smoking Is Increasing Among Young American Women

young woman smoking
Artem Furman / Getty Images A young woman smoking

But the habit isn't safe, the authors of a new study warn

For a large swath of young American women, light smoking is growing in popularity, according to a new study.

In new research published in Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin were intrigued by other studies that noted a spike in casual smoking in recent years. To find out more about very light smokers, they analyzed a sample of 9,789 women between ages 18 and 25 from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The researchers asked the women if they had smoked part or all of a cigarette in the past 30 days; those who said they had were classified as current smokers, while those who hadn’t, but had smoked previously, were considered “former” smokers.

While heavy smoking—a pack a day—has decreased in the U.S., the researchers found that 27% of all people in the study—and 62% of the current smokers—identified as very light smokers, a habit of five or fewer cigarettes a day. It also can mean skipping smoking some days, then picking up a cigarette every so often. In fact, this kind of casual smoking—what many people often refer to as “only smoking when drunk”—has become predominant, particularly because of its perceived lack of health effects, the study authors note. Many light smokers consider smoking “only once in a while” as not harmful; while they understood smoking to be risky, the authors write, they did not consider the risk as high as non-smokers.

Interestingly, a specific group of women emerged as “light” and “very light” smokers: 18- to 20-year-old single women with some college education.

The research team thinks young women entering adulthood are at particular risk for smoking, perhaps because young adulthood is a time of stress and anxiety and because smoking fewer cigarettes is cheaper than a heavier habit.

But even a very light habit isn’t safe, the authors warn. Research has indicated repeatedly that picking up even one cigarette puts a woman at increased risk for health problems. The fact that the women who are smoking lightly tend to be young and of childbearing age is especially worrisome, they note, since smoking can not only affect conceiving and fertility but can also put women at higher risk for disorders such as cancer of the cervix.

Beyond pregnancy effects, very light smokers are susceptible to the same issues that affect heavier smokers, including depression, psychological distress, and dependence on other controlled substances, the study found. And while the research team did not correlate smoking with binge drinking, they found that heavy and light smokers were similar in their patterns of past alcohol bingeing.

“Social features of college life, including weekend partying, may promote smoking at a very light level among college women,” the authors write. “Emotional distress and multiple substance misuse may serve to both initiate and maintain very light smoking.”

The authors write that anti-smoking campaigns—which tend to focus on heavier smokers—still haven’t yet reduced the “cool” factor associated with taking a drag, even an occasional one.

“Advertising aimed at women attempts to associate smoking with independence, attractiveness, and sophistication,” the study notes. “To meet the challenge of the tobacco industry, smoking intervention programs and policies directed at emerging-adult women need to be based on an understanding of the diverse characteristics…associated with very light smoking in this population.”

TIME Addiction

Majority of Americans Agree You Should Be 21 to Buy Tobacco

Three out of every four American adults favor increasing the minimum age from 18

Three out of every four American adults favor increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The study, released by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Tuesday, also found that smokers overwhelmingly agreed; 7 of 10 cigarette smokers backed raising the minimum age.

Brian King, acting deputy director for research translation at the Center for Disease Control’s Office on Smoking and Health, highlighted the health benefits that could come from such an increase. “It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit.”

Most states require tobacco purchases to be made by someone who is at least 18; in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, and Utah, the minimum age is 19. Hawaii, however, already has a must-be-21 to purchase tobacco rule in place.

The data came from a 2014 online survey of 4,219 adults over 18. A separate study earlier this year found that if the all states were to raise the minimum age for tobacco sales to 21, there would be a 12% decrease in smokers along with 250,000 fewer premature deaths.

TIME Addiction

Heroin Use in U.S. Reaches Epidemic Levels

Heroin use has increased 63% in 11 years

Heroin use in the United States has skyrocketed, spreading to include groups who previously were less likely to abuse the drug.

New data released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that heroin use increased 63% between 2002 and 2013, and heroin-related overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled over the same time period. In 2013 an estimated 517,000 people reported that they had used heroin in the last year or had a heroin-related dependence, a 150% increase from 2007. More than 8,200 people died of heroin-related overdose in 2013, according to national surveys published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

While heroin use continues to be most common among men between the ages of 18 and 25 who make less than $20,000, the CDC researchers note that in recent years people in nearly every demographic group are using the drug more. For instance, heroin use has doubled among women and non-Hispanic white people.

MORE: Why You Don’t Know About the Heroin Vaccine

“Heroin use has increased rapidly across the U.S. and throughout society,” said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden during a press conference. “With that increase we are seeing a dramatic rise in deaths.”

Addiction to prescription pain killers may be fueling some of the rise in heroin use. As TIME has reported, people who are addicted to painkillers may make the switch to heroin since it’s cheaper, doesn’t require a prescription, and offers a similar high. According to the CDC, those who are addicted to prescription opioid painkillers are 40 times more likely to be addicted to heroin. “Most heroin users have a history of nonmedical use of prescription opioid pain relievers, and an increase in the rate of heroin overdose deaths has occurred concurrently with an epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses,” the study authors write.

The report also shows that Americans using heroin are likely to be using other drugs. People addicted to cocaine are also 15 times more likely to be addicted to heroin. And the latest data shows that 96% of people who used heroin in the last year reported using at least one other drug during the same period, with 61% reporting they used at least three different drugs.

The CDC says comprehensive interventions need to happen at the federal and state levels, and health care providers need to follow best practices prescribe pain killers responsibly. As part of that effort, the government is increasing access to substance abuse treatment under the Affordable Care Act and increasing education and training for providers. States can address the problem by implementing prescription drug monitoring programs and expanding access to opioid overdose antidote naloxone, the CDC says.

Read Next: Why America Can’t Kick its Painkiller Problem

TIME movies

Joe Manganiello Opens Up About His Battle with Addiction

attends the European Premiere of "Magic Mike XXL" at Vue West End on June 30, 2015 in London, England.
Dave Hogan—Getty Images attends the European Premiere of Magic Mike XXL at Vue West End on June 30, 2015, in London, England

"I'm so lucky to have found that right person for me"

He’s engaged, starring in the hottest movie of the summer and was deemed one of the sexiest men alive.

But Joe Manganiello says none of that erases the struggle to stay sober – a commitment he says still requires strength and focus.

“I battled with addiction at a young age and got to the other side of that,” he tells Haute Living for its July/August cover story. “That’s an ongoing battle.”

The Magic Mike XXL star, 38, revealed his struggle with alcoholism in late 2013, telling HuffPo Live his life was “ruined” for a period in his 20s when he was homeless, jobless and careless. At the time of the interview, he said he hadn’t had a drink in 11 years.

Manganiello touched on his struggles in a book he published at the time,Evolution: The Cutting Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You’ve Always Wanted. Now, he says he’s considering opening up about his recovery even more.

“I was writing a one-man show at some point, and maybe I’ll pick up with that or turn that into a book; there are some hurdles that were thrown my way in life that I had to get over [that I want to discuss],” he told Haute Living. “I think there’s a story in there somewhere about trying to find my way through that and making it to where I am today.”

Where he is today is engaged to be married to Sofia Vergara, and he tells the magazine the pair work because they are both “grounded.”

Case in point? When he suggested to his bride-to-be that they consider starring in a movie together, he says she wisely rejected the idea on the grounds that she didn’t want them to make a flop along the lines of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez‘s famously panned joint project.

“Her fear is that we’d make the next Gigli,” he says, and said he agreed with her after some reflection. “We get along so well together; I’m so lucky to have found that right person for me, and I know she feels the same way. We’re really good with each other. Why risk f—ing that up?”

The actor also confirms that the duo have set a date, and when it comes to wedding planning, “We’re very traditional male-female in that way. [I’ll be like], ‘What do you need me to do? I’ll call the DJ.’ ”

The only thing that seems to really matter to him, it seems, is sealing the deal with the love of his life – and carving out a private existence despite being two public people.

“That’s the tricky part – staying centered,” he says. “Lucky for us – and I use this word in the most positive way – we’re very ‘normal’ people, but ‘down-to-earth’ would be a better way of describing it. We’re very grounded.”

This article first appeared on People.com

TIME Innovation

Fight Prison Gangs by Breaking Up Big Prisons

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. America’s biggest prisons are factories exporting prison gangs. Break them up.

By David Skarbek and Courtney Michaluk in Politico

2. Find out why demographics and a charismatic leader still aren’t enough to make a majority party.

By Suzy Khimm in the New Republic

3. Denied a seat at the table of global power, the BRICS nations are building their own table.

By Shashi Tharoor in Project Syndicate

4. With an implanted treatment that blocks a narcotic high, one doctor wants to end addiction.

By Sujata Gupta in Mosaic Science

5. Your next insurance inspector could be a drone.

By Cameron Graham in Technology Advice

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Addiction

One in 10 Americans Now Vape but Most Also Use Regular Tobacco Products

New e-cigarette laws
Yui Mok—AP

Three out of four of e-cigarette users are now both vaping and smoking

E-cigarette use may be on the rise but isn’t helping Americans kick tobacco addictions, according to new research

A poll of 5,679 Americans conducted by Reuters found 75% of people who use electronic cigarettes or other vaporizing devices continue to also smoke traditional tobacco products. The poll indicates that this population of “vapers” is now up to roughly 10% of U.S. adults and 15% of U.S. adults under the age of 40. This number represents a significant rise from 2013, when the U.S. government estimated the figure to be about 2.6% of Americans. Almost 70% of this poll’s e-cigarette users claim to have started in the last year.

While about 40% of e-cigarette-using respondents said they were motivated to use e-cigarettes because they could be smoked indoors and are cheaper than most tobacco products, a majority of users also cited vaping as a safe alternative to smoking. In fact, researchers have yet to corroborate this. The FDA has even proposed regulations requiring e-cigarette manufacturers to add health warnings to their labels.

Some 80% of respondents also identified vaping as “a good way to help people quit smoking.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 17.8% of U.S. adults are current tobacco smokers.

Read more at Reuters

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