Teenagers using e-cigarettes are more likely to try conventional cigarettes later on, a study has shown.
Researchers, who surveyed school pupils aged 14-16 about their smoking habits on two occasions at a yearly interval, found that those using e-cigarettes even rarely were were more likely to have tried conventional cigarettes within one year.
However, only those smoking e-cigarettes daily in the first survey ran a higher risk of becoming a regular cigarette smoker one year on.
The study, published in Tobacco Control, concluded that the findings had public health implications, especially as there was no significant evidence to suggest teenagers use e-cigarettes as aids to quit smoking.
The paper said: ’We were able to detect a significant effect of e-cigarette use for increasing the likelihood of onset of smoking, and we think this has public health implications.’
Speculating on the causes, the University of Hawaii-based researchers added: ’Nicotine exposure via e-cigarettes, even at lower levels, may sensitise adolescents to its effects.
‘If adolescents begin to experience mild physiological effects from nicotine, they may be inclined to shift to cigarettes in order to get a bigger “kick”.’
The findings follow a recent meta-analysis concluding e-cigarettes may not help smokers to quit at all, despite being available on the NHS.