Teens who try vaping may turn to tobacco
Teenage schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes dramatically increase their chances of graduating to tobacco, research has shown.
A study of 14 and 15 year olds from 20 English schools found a "robust association" between vaping and a higher probability of cigarette smoking.
Children who had never smoked but had tried an e-cigarette were nearly four times more likely to smoke at least one tobacco-filled cigarette within a year than those who had avoided vaping.
Expert opinion is divided on whether e-cigarettes can act as a young person's gateway to tobacco and other drugs.
They deliver a nicotine 'hit' without the dangerous chemicals contained in tobacco, and are widely accepted as a safer option for people who smoke.
Social psychologist Professor Mark Conner, from the University of Leeds, who led the new research, 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 young people were just experimenting with cigarettes or were becoming more regular smokers."
The vast majority of the children surveyed were non-smokers, but a third had experimented with e-cigarettes.
After a year, 34pc of those who had never smoked but had tried vaping admitted to smoking at least one "real" cigarette. In comparison, just under 9pc of children who had avoided both e-cigarettes and tobacco went on to smoke.