Vaping is encouraging children to start smoking

E-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking for teenagers new research suggests

E-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking for teenagers new research suggests

TEENAGERS who use electronic cigarettes are four times more likely to move on to tobacco, a study found.

Among those who had never smoked but had tried an e-cigarette, 34 per cent tried smoking tobacco over the year.

Professor Linda Bauld, a Cancer Research UK-funded expert in tobacco policy at the University of Stirling, said that the study simply shows that some teenagers who try an e-cigarette might go on to try tobacco, and on both occasions it could be just once.

The vast majority of these participants were non-smokers, while a few had already tried tobacco.

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Writing in an online-first publication in Tobacco Control, Mark Conner, MD (University of Leeds, England), and colleagues report that in a cohort of 2,836 adolescents, e-cigarette use was strongly associated with subsequent cigarette smoking.

And occasional smokers at baseline were almost twice as likely to escalate their habit if they had tried e-cigarettes as were those who hadn't experimented with vaping (just over 24% compared with just under 13%).

The researchers say it is also plausible that the use of e-cigarettes "normalises" smoking or leads to nicotine addiction - although, as of yet, there is no evidence of that.

Researchers report that more than one-third of the students ages 13 to 14 said they had used e-cigarettes at baseline and 22.6% said they had smoked traditional cigarettes. The students from 20 United Kingdom schools were asked about their smoking habits, and then again 1 year later.

Adolescents taking up smoking may be less on the radar of cardiologists who are likely more familiar with studies in adults suggesting that e-cigarettes can help wean long-time smokers from the high-risk habit.

Cristine Delnevo, the study's second author, said: "Without knowing details about device attributes, user experiences, and motivations for e-cigarette use, reasons for low cessation rates among infrequent e-cigarette users are unclear". According to him, although the United Kingdom had introduced strong control measures for non-conventional smoking, effective enforcement of the same is vital. Are they a "healthier" alternative to traditional cigarettes?

As the data was acquired as a part of an observational study, instead of finding the cause o r effect, it highlights the likely association between the various factors responsible.

Official statistics show that e-cigarette usage is going up and cigarette usage is declining among young people - a fact Professor Conner says appears to have some contradiction to the findings of the research project.

Just one puff of an e-cigarette could be all it takes to increase the risk of a heart attack, research suggested earlier this month.

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