Teens who use E-Cigs more likely to start smoking, says study

smokeTeenagers are more likely to begin smoking after trying e-cigarettes, according to new research published in the journal Tobacco Control.

The research shows that school pupils who had previously used an e-cigarette device were then approximately 3 times more likely to start smoking cigarettes around year later, compared with those who had never used e-cigarettes.

The use of e-cigarettes in teens is rising; increasing from 5% in 2013 to 8% in 2014. Some studies have concluded that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking widespread concerns that they are simply acting as a ‘gateway’ to smoking regular tobacco-based cigarettes. This is in spite of the fact it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to under-18s in the UK.

A team of experts based at the University of Hawaii monitored 2,338 high school students, a year apart, quizzing them regarding their experiences of either smoking tobacco or ‘vaping’ with electronic devices; if they used them, and if so, how frequently.

Just under a third (31%) of the students had admitted to using e-cigarettes when they were first surveyed in 2013 at the age of 14 or 15, the study found.

After the researchers had questioned the children a year later, this percentage had risen to 38. Overall, 15% of the students had smoked at least 1 cigarette in 2013, increasing to 21% by the following year.

However, it was discovered that whoever had used e-cigarettes in 2013 were actually thrice as likely to times more likely to have smoked tobacco the following year. This finding was still true, even after researchers accounted for factors such as students’ home environment and parental education, according to the authors.

The researchers also found that those that had reported to having the larger frequency of vaping in the first year were likely to regularly smoke later on, which could mean that many students who tried smoking in the study were just experimenting.

The authors of the study wrote: “We followed a sample of high school students over a one-year interval and found that among initial non-smokers, those who used e-cigarettes were more likely to initiate cigarette smoking.

“This suggests that e-cigarette use in adolescence has behavioural costs.

“These findings should be considered for policy discussions about the availability of e-cigarettes to adolescents.”

Those involved in creating the analysis state the study is merely statistical, and no definitive reasons can be pinpointed as to why some of the children had begun to smoke.

The study had also not taken into account other factors, such as parents’ smoking habits or attitudes to smoking.

E-cigarettes are used by around 1.3 million people in the UK, intended to resemble a traditional cigarette. Liquid nicotine is converted into a mist, or vapour, that the user inhales – simulating the process of smoking. As the devices emit a smoke-like water vapour, this has led to the term ‘vaping’ being commonly referred to for their use.

Smoking rates have dropped, but there are huge concerns that the e-cigarettes could be helping to encourage youngsters to begin smoking who previously never had, critics arguing they are a gateway to nicotine addiction and there needs to be further research into the impact on our health.

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