Teenagers who use e-cigarettes really are more likely to smoke tobacco in the future, scientists have found.
A study suggests vaping is a gateway to real cigarettes – and youngsters who smoke and vape may use both products more heavily over time.
The results confirm the claims of other experts that e-cigarettes may act as a ‘catalyst’, getting children hooked on nicotine and making smoking socially acceptable so they later turn to tobacco.
A team led by US researchers surveyed more than 2,000 teenagers aged between 16 and 20 over three years.
About a third of vapers were smoking in the first year of the study, but more than half were doing so by the end.
The results, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, suggest teenagers who smoke and vape may go on to use both more heavily, rather than ‘switching’ one for the other.
Lead author Dr Michael Dunbar, of the RAND Corporation research centre in California, said: ‘For young people, using these products may actually lead to more harm in the long run. As others have suggested, vaping may be normalising tobacco and nicotine use among young people – using one product may ‘lower the bar’ for going on to use other types of products.’
NHS figures show more than a third of 15-year-olds have tried an e-cigarette.
A University of California study this year also found teenagers were 87 % more likely to try traditional cigarettes if they had experience of vaping.