Study: Young vapers aren't always aware they're inhaling nicotine

Around 40% of participants who said they only vaped non-nicotine products tested positive for nicotine markers in their urine.

A new study has found that many teens using e-cigarettes appear to be inhaling significant quantities of nicotine without realizing.

The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, studied 517 individuals aged 12 to 21. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about their use of regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes and marijuana. Almost 14% reported that they had already tried regular cigarettes, 36% said that they had tried e-cigarettes and 31.3 % said that they had tried marijuana. 

Researchers from Stony Brook University in New York, USA, carrying out the study, then collected urine samples from the participants. Overall, the substances found largely corresponded to participants' responses, although a discrepancy was found among young vapers. 

In this subgroup, around 40% of participants who thought they were vaping nicotine-free products tested positive for nicotine markers in their urine samples. "This is one of the first studies showing the amount of nicotine kids are getting from e-cigarettes," said the study's lead author, Dr. Rachel Boykan, a clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Stony Brook University. "They're getting a lot -- as much or more than they would with traditional cigarettes." 

Since e-cigarettes came on the market, the products have attracted an increasing number of young users. Early in 2019, research from the US, published in the JAMA journal, found that e-cigarettes could favor the use of traditional cigarettes among young people. 

Another recent study, published early April in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), appears to contradict such claims.