TUESDAY, Feb. 27, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Along with reducing conventional smoking, anti-tobacco laws in the United States may tamp down use of electronic cigarettes, a new study suggests.
New York University researchers found that states with anti-tobacco regulations -- such as smoke-free air laws and cigarette taxes -- had fewer vapers as well as fewer cigarette smokers.
"Our research adds to the understanding of the geographic and sociodemographic factors underlying e-cigarette use within the existing tobacco control environment," said lead author Dr. Omar El-Shahawy. He's a postdoctoral fellow in the NYU School of Medicine.
"Several decades of research on traditional cigarettes guided the existing tobacco control environment. E-cigarettes are relatively new and constantly evolving, which makes the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration's] task in regulating them very challenging," El-Shahawy said in a university news release.
The researchers analyzed 2012-14 national data. About 5 percent of adults said they were e-cigarette users, and 17 percent said they were cigarette smokers.
E-cigarette use varied widely by state, with vaping most prevalent in Oklahoma (10 percent) and least so in Delaware (less than 3 percent).
There are still many unknowns pertaining to the link between tobacco control and battery powered e-cigarettes, El-Shahawy said. Some experts believe vaping helps smokers quit the tobacco habit. Others argue that e-cigarettes are harmful, too.
"Until this ongoing debate is settled, tobacco control advocates and policy makers should continue focusing on enforcing the existing tobacco control interventions and regulatory framework," El-Shahawy concluded.
The study findings were published Feb. 27 in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about e-cigarettes.