Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

Vaping – or the use of e-cigarettes – is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking. The research published in the Tobacco Control journal raises questions about the role e-cigarettes may play in the progression adolescents make to smoke their first cigarette. It identified a ‘robust association’ between e-cigarette use and the increased probability of smoking a cigarette within year.

It identified a ‘robust association’ between e-cigarette use and the increased probability of  a cigarette within year.

The research – involving a collaboration of academics led by the University of Leeds – surveyed 2,836 adolescents from 20 schools in England. Some had tried tobacco but the vast majority were non-smokers. A third had used an e-cigarette.

They were re-surveyed a year later – and asked if they had tried a conventional cigarette, and how often.

Among the adolescents who had never smoked but had tried an e-cigarette, 118 out of 343 reported smoking at least one cigarette (34 per cent) over the year. Among the group who had not smoked and never used an e-cigarette, the figure was 124 out of 1383 (just under nine percent).

Professor Mark Conner, an applied social psychologist at the University of Leeds and lead investigator, said: “The findings suggest that among the teenagers who had never smoked, the use of e-cigarettes was a strong predicator that within 12 months they would have tried a conventional cigarette.

“It is impossible to say if these  were just experimenting with cigarettes or were becoming more regular smokers.”

The scientific paper raises the question that the adolescents who tried e-cigarettes would have tried smoking anyway, whether e-cigarettes were available or not?

If that was true, the researchers say they would have expected the adolescents at the lowest risk of starting to smoke – those with no friends who smoked – to have shown a weak association between e-cigarette and tobacco use.

But the data suggested the opposite.

The  revealed that e-cigarette use was a greater risk factor for starting smoking in those with no smoking friends (five and a half times more likely to start smoking) than for those who had a friendship network where most smoked (one and a half times more likely to start smoking).

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Source: Medical Xpress

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