Published: Fri, August 18, 2017
Medicine | By Megan Pierce

E-cigarettes may push teens to start smoking

E-cigarettes may push teens to start smoking

Researchers found that more than half of daily e-cigarette users had quit smoking in the last five years compared to just 28 per cent of adults who had never tried vaping.

Among those who had never smoked but had tried an e-cigarette, 34 per cent tried smoking tobacco over the year. But the studies suggesting that experimentation with e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to smoking in adolescents have been carried out in the US.

"While questions regarding the efficacy of e-cigs for smoking cessation remain, our findings suggest that frequent e-cig use may play an important role in cessation or relapse prevention for some smokers", says Daniel Giovenco, Ph.D.

The vast majority of the children surveyed were non-smokers, but a third had experimented with e-cigarettes.

Rates of e-cigarette use among teens are low, but the proportion of those who have tried them at least once are reasonably high, at 13-22%, and the trend is upwards.

"Adolescents who have used e-cigarettes and who initially have no friends who smoke may be at particular risk of starting to smoke cigarettes", said Sarah Grogan, from Manchester Metropolitan University. The students from 20 United Kingdom schools were asked about their smoking habits, and then again 1 year later.

But the findings conflict with other research and smoking trends, which show cigarette use falling.

The researchers also looked at the teenagers who had already smoked at least one cigarette at the start of the study.

The researchers wrote: 'Given the lack of clarity regarding the mechanism linking e-cigarette and cigarette use, we need to be cautious in making policy recommendations based on our findings'.

But it was strongly associated with e-cigarette use, particularly among those without friends who smoked-a group usually thought to be less vulnerable to taking up smoking.

Kamran Siddiqi, Professor in Public Health at the University of York and another co-author, said that the study points out the importance of regulating sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to adolescents. The UK has introduced strong regulatory measures in this regard. The limitation of such a study is that it can not determine cause and effect - instead it highlights possible links between the various factors at play.

Official statistics show that e-cigarette usage is increasing while tobacco cigarette usage is decreasing among young people in the UK.

The study also noted that a new generation of e-cigarette devices have come onto the market since the study was started.

The researchers therefore wanted to see if there were any similarities in patterns in the United Kingdom, as well as to explore several potential risk factors and influences that have not been looked at before.

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