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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Indigenous company to launch First Nations banking app

A national release of the OneFeather APP anticipated no later than this summer

FOREST INK: Ithaka Institute in Switzerland continues with biochar research

My experience to date with biochar was mainly its use as a… Continue reading

RANCH MUSINGS: Is isolation enough already? A view from real isolation

In so many ways, we are blessed with being different from them

BC Lacrosse Association makes difficult decision to cancel minor lacrosse season

Impacted teams include both the Quesnel Thunder and the Williams Lake Bighorns

Quesnel Gifting Group spreads positivity in community

The online gifting group has seen over 1000 members join in less then one week

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Most Read