News Release

October 11, 2016

For Immediate Release
Contact: Whitney Doll, Senior Communications Specialist, 703-861-1351

Major E-cigarette Study Finds Strong Association between Teen Vaping and Smoking

Arlington, VA — Today CNA released a new report examining the potential effects of electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) usage on adolescents. The study, which analyzed survey data from nearly 130,000 middle-school and high-school students, raises serious questions about the widespread belief that e-cigarettes help reduce the number of teenagers who smoke tobacco.

Researchers at CNA compared National Youth Tobacco Survey data from the years before the arrival of e-cigarettes to surveys from more recent years. E-cigarette users were two-and-a-half times more likely to be smoking or chewing tobacco than the researchers’ statistical model had predicted.

"The results were so surprising that at first we thought they couldn’t possibly be right," says Elizabeth Clelan, Ph.D., research scientist at CNA and lead study author. "However, when we looked further, we found that not only were vapers more likely to smoke than expected, they also smoked a significantly greater number of cigarettes per day than fellow smokers who had never tried e-cigarettes."

The study looked at smoking habits in the years before e-cigarettes were introduced, in order to estimate the probability that a given adolescent would smoke based on his or her grade, sex, ethnic group and whether family members smoked. Then researchers compared these predictions to actual tobacco use by students since e-cigarettes burst onto the scene. The CNA study found that there is a very strong correlation between vaping and tobacco use among all teens. The very low rate of cigarette use among those who have never tried vaping raises the possibility that in the absence of e-cigarettes, smoking by schoolchildren might be falling more dramatically.

"One potential implication is that e-cigarettes could be a gateway drug for the use of tobacco," says co-author and CNA research analyst Justin Ladner, Ph.D.

To download a copy of the report and other supporting materials, visit

CNA is a nonprofit research and analysis organization dedicated to developing actionable solutions to complex problems of national importance. With nearly 700 scientists, analysts and professional staff, CNA takes a real-world approach to gathering data. Its one-of-a-kind field program places analysts on carriers and military bases, in squad rooms and classrooms, and working side-by-side with a wide array of government decision-makers around the world. In addition to defense-related matters for the U.S. Department of the Navy, CNA’s research portfolio includes criminal justice, homeland security, energy security, water resources, enterprise systems and data analysis, and education.

Note to writers and editors: CNA is not an acronym and is correctly referenced as "CNA, a research organization in Arlington, VA."


Elizabeth Cutler
Sr Communications Specialist

John Stimpson
Communications Associate