A study of 11- to 18-year-olds in the UK has found that experimenting with e-cigarettes can influence some young people to go on to experiment with smoking — but that, equally, smoking experimentation can also lead to young people trying e-cigarettes.
Although the study of 1,152 young people showed an association between e-cigarette use and smoking in young people, and it has been argued that e-cigarettes can be a “gateway” to smoking in this group, the authors said they “suggest that the association between e-cigarette initiation and smoking initiation may work both ways”.
They added that “it cannot be determined whether e-cigarette experimentation leads to regular smoking.”
In the paper, the authors argue that to fully explore the association between e-cigarette use and smoking, larger cohort studies running over several years are needed.
The researchers also found that young people were more likely to have tried smoking than vaping. Of those surveyed, 21 had tried an e-cigarette but had never smoked, whereas 118 had tried smoking but had never tried e-cigarettes.
The study, by researchers from Kings College London; the University of Nottingham; Public Health England; the campaigning charity, Action on Smoking; and Health UK, was published in The Journal of Adolescent Health.