Youngsters who try e-cigarettes are much more likely to start smoking, says a new study.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh studied nearly 700 teenagers in the United States for about a year. All the youngsters had a aversion for smoking at the start of the study.
When they were allowed to try e-cigarettes they found that of the 16 who tried e-cigarettes, 11 (68 percent) went on to smoke compared with only 18 percent of those who did not. This was because the youngsters became addicted to nicotine and grew used to the action of smoking, which normalized the habit.
"Initial exposure to nicotine in other forms, such as smokeless tobacco, can lead to the later traditional cigarette smoking. Because e-cigarettes deliver nicotine more slowly than traditional cigarettes, they may serve as a 'nicotine starter,' allowing a new user to advance to cigarette smoking as he or she becomes tolerant of the initial adverse effects," explained the authors.
Dr Brian Primack, study lead author, said, "Especially considering the rapid increase in e-cigarette use among youth, these findings support regulations to limit sales and decrease the appeal of e-cigarettes to adolescents and young adults."
Dr Jonathan Klein, of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, "At a time when many claim to be uncertain about the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes and argue for more studies, these data provide strong longitudinal evidence that e-cigarette use leads to smoking, most likely owning to nicotine addiction."