A recent UK study suggests that teenagers who have tried an e-cigarette are more likely to go on to smoke tobacco cigarettes.
The study was led by the University of Stirling along with researchers from the Unversities of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and ScotCen. The team looked at pupils at four Scottish secondary schools aged between 11 and 18 years old, surveying the participants in 2015 and then again 12 months later.
They found in the initial 2015 survey that among the 2,125 pupils who had never smoked a cigarette, 183 (8.6%) said that they had tried an e-cigarette and 1,942 had not.
In the 2016 survey, 74 (40.4%) of those who had tried an e-cigarette in the initial 2015 survey went on to smoke a cigarette in the following 12 months – compared to only 249 (12.8%) of young people who had not tried an e-cigarette.
The results remained statistically significant even after the team had taken into account other factors that influence smoking including smoking susceptibility, having friends or family members who smoke, age, sex, family affluence, ethnic group and school.
“Uniquely, we also found that e-cigarette use had a greater impact on the odds of cigarette experimentation in young never smokers who had a firm intention not to smoke and/or whose friends didn’t smoke. Traditionally, this is the group of young people least likely to take up smoking,” commented Dr Catherine Best, research fellow at the University of Stirling.
Sally Haw, professor of Public and Population Health at Stirling, also added that, “The greater impact of e-cigarette use on young people thought to be at lower risk of starting smoking is of particular concern” and now recommends further research to understand better how experimenting with e-cigarettes may influence smoking attitudes.
The findings can be found published online in the British Medical Journal’s Tobacco Control journal.