(COLUMBUS, Ohio) –Public health officials have seen a promising downward trend in teen vaping during the past year – partially attributable to isolation of the pandemic and new regulations that limited products and flavors that target teens and young adults. Now, parents, teachers, researchers and policymakers are finding ways to keep vaping on the decline and prevent a rebound in the new school year as teens resume normal activities with friends.
The Center for Tobacco Research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) is uniquely equipped to allow biological, behavioral and regulatory researchers to work together to better understand the risks e-cigarettes pose to kids’ health and the best ways to keep teens from using them.
“With this center, you now have clinical psychologists, public health researchers, chemists, medical oncologists, all working together on the same study,” said Theodore Wagener, PhD director of the Center for Tobacco Research and member of the OSUCCC – James Cancer Control Research Program. “The unique perspectives of all these different disciplines really allow us to find answers to big questions and develop impactful solutions.”
One example of this collaboration is the Buckeye Teen Health Study, which explores the differences in e-cigarette and tobacco product use among boys and young men in rural and urban areas and how marketing and advertising affects their behavior, especially as it relates to the dual use of tobacco products and how vaping may be a gateway to more harmful nicotine products.
“We check in with participants every six months, which helps us track their behaviors over a long period of time and into adulthood,” said Amy Ferketich, a College of Public Health researcher in the OSUCCC – James Cancer Control Program who leads the Buckeye Teen Health Study. “We found that the participants in the study who were e-cigarette users were much more likely to transition to cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.”
Another current study at the Center for Tobacco Research discovers links between different tobacco-related products. For example, it is estimated that 38% of young people who smoke hookah also use e-cigarettes. Researchers are now examining how cessation programs for teens that target one product can lead to reductions in the use of all nicotine products. This is especially important because studies suggest that youth vape and hookah users are more likely to not only continue to vape but also smoke traditional cigarettes or use other tobacco delivery products.