New research indicates that the increasing use of alternative tobacco products by youth under the age of 18 is a public health crisis.
“Alternative tobacco products represent a new challenge in the 75-year-old war against tobacco,” says commentary co-author Michael Weitzman, MD, a professor of Pediatrics and of Environmental Medicine at NYU Langone. “With the increasing numbers of young adults using alternative tobacco products, we have every reason to be concerned.”
In “Alternative Tobacco Products as a Second Front in the War on Tobacco,” Dr. Weitzman and Stephen M. Amrock, MD, a former NYU Langone medical student who is now an intern in internal medicine at the University of Oregon, highlight research on the use of alternative tobacco products by young adults published earlier this year in JAMA Pediatrics by Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. That paper reported the results of a longitudinal study of 1596 young adults ranging in age from 15 to 23, including 1048 who had never smoked prior to the study. The study authors showed that use of water pipes, also known as hookahs, and other alternative tobacco products is associated with a 2.5 times increase in later cigarette use.
“The findings in the JAMA Pediatrics paper corroborate what many of us in the public health field are tremendously worried about,” says Dr. Weitzman.