Teens Unfamiliar With Harms of Marijuana, E-Cigarettes

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Teens Unfamiliar With Harms of Marijuana, E-Cigarettes
Teens Unfamiliar With Harms of Marijuana, E-Cigarettes

(HealthDay News) -- Adolescents are not receiving the message that marijuana or electronic cigarettes might harm their health, new research suggests. The findings were published online June 23 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The researchers conducted six small-group discussions with 24 adolescents from a Northern California school known to have high rates of substance use. Discussion guides asked the teens what positive and negative effects they knew were related to cigarettes, marijuana, and e-cigarettes; where they learned about these products; and why someone might use one over another. Then the researchers identified common themes that arose from all the discussions.

Generally speaking, the teens saw no benefits to smoking tobacco except perhaps helping someone relax, but they listed several harms, such as yellowing teeth, bad breath, and cancer. However, the teens had no difficulty listing benefits of using marijuana, such as getting high, relieving stress or pain, and relaxing. The main downsides the students listed about marijuana were getting in trouble because it is illegal and getting into dangerous situations while high. They were uncertain about health risks. Similarly, the teens expressed confusion about whether e-cigarettes could be harmful or not. Some were uncertain whether they contained nicotine, and others suggested that using them looked "classy."

"The most striking finding from this study was how little information adolescents were getting regarding risks related to marijuana and e-cigarettes," lead author Maria Roditis, Ph.D., M.P.H., a researcher at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, told HealthDay. "The youth we talked with actually mentioned the fact that they would see commercials talking about risks related to cigarettes, but there was nothing about marijuana or e-cigarettes."

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