Vaping linked to cannabis use in young people, study finds

Canadian pediatrician Dr. Nicholas Chadi co-authored the research

A man smokes an electronic cigarette. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Nam Y. Huh

Teens and young adults who use electronic cigarettes are significantly more likely to use cannabis as well, according to a new study co-authored by a Canadian researcher.

Pediatrician Nicholas Chadi’s analysis of previous research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that the likelihood of marijuana use was three to four times higher among youth who vaped.

One of the key findings showed the risk for younger adolescents aged 12 to 17 was higher than for young adults aged 18 to 24 years.

“It’s an important discovery for us,” said Chadi, who is now based at Montreal’s Ste-Justine Hospital but conducted the research during a previous posting in Boston.

“The risk is higher for both sub-groups, but it’s almost twice as high for the younger ones.”

The study analyzed 21 previous academic papers encompassing some 130,000 participants. Chadi worked on the project while he was a pediatric addiction fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The results are in line with current medical knowledge that shows young brains are less developed and more susceptible to substance use and addiction, Chadi said in an interview.

Both nicotine and cannabis affect the neural pathways associated with pleasure and reward. Chadi said both substances could make the brain more sensitive to other psychoactive subtances and addictive behaviours during adulthood.

“The younger we are, the more the brain is susceptible to becoming addicted to substances, therefore the risk of consuming nicotine or vaping is even higher for younger teenagers,” he said.

He said the analysis doesn’t go so far as to conclude that vaping leads directly to cannabis use, but it contributes to a growing body of work that appears to suggest a link.

“We can’t prove a link of causality,” he said. But with a large number of studies pointing in the same direction, “we have a good reason to think that exposure to vaping is part of the cause of initiation to marijuana.”

The strongest link was found in younger subjects who combined vaping with tobacco or alcohol consumption. It’s not impossible that these youth are simply more susceptible to substance consumption, Chadi said, although the studies tried to limit certain factors, such as addiction or mental illness.

Studies like this suggest the nicotine used in e-cigarettes is just as dangerous, if not more, he said, than the nicotine in traditional cigarettes when it comes to young teens.

READ MORE: Vaping among Canadian teens spiked 74 per cent in one year, study suggests

“It’s very important from a public health point of view, because it reinforces the message that e-cigarettes are not at all a tool to promote teen health, and on the contrary, it can increase the problems of dependence and addiction among those youth.”

Vaping is often falsely perceived as a banal and risk-free activity. However, other studies have shown that vaping as a teen increases the risk of smoking traditional cigarettes, Chadi said.

“We now realize that the vast majority of teens who vape probably have never touched a traditional cigarette or other drugs,” he said. “These devices are so addictive and well-made for youth that the youth fall into the trap; they develop a dependence and go find other sources of nicotine and other drugs.”

Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Weekly Christmas market offered at Blue Spoon Catering

Be sure to swing by Blue Spoon Catering on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

UPDATE: Missing woman located after Williams Lake RCMP’s appeal to public for help

Kendra Shorter was last seen in Williams Lake when police put out call for assistance

Smallmouth bass invading Beaver Valley watershed

Residents encouraged to report invasive species

Williams Lake RCMP target 30 offenders to tackle property crime

Insp. Jeff Pelley said the targetting involves working with local community agencies

Generosity abounds at Tribune’s Food and Toy Drive

The public also enjoyed the festive attitude, with two local musical groups performing

VIDEO: Andrew Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Canadian airline passengers to be eligible for $1,000 in compensation for delayed flights

Passengers can also receive compensation for overbooking, lost luggage and other inconveniences

RCMP take care when burying sex mannequins found this year in Manning Park

Police tasked with ensuring the mannequins were completely disposed

B.C. seniors need better vaccine protection, advocate says

Home support down, day programs up in annual rating

RCMP rescue wounded raven on Vancouver Island highway

Bird expected to make full recovery

Be aware of ticks when chopping down Christmas trees

Potential for ticks to transfer to clothing

More rowers come forward with complaints about coach, criticism of UVic

Barney Williams is accused of verbal abuse and harassment

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

Most Read