A new study linked e-cigarette use among youth to a higher risk of taking up smoking later on, regardless of peer pressure. Scientists at the University of Leeds found that schoolchildren that regularly vape can become smokers within a year.
The findings appeared Thursday in the Tobacco Control journal.
A “Robust” Link Between Vaping and Smoking
Study authors reported a “robust association” between vaping and smoking in teens and school-aged children. Many e-cigarette users were more likely to try a real cigarette in the next 12 months than non-users.
The study focused on 2,836 British teens. Of these, some had tried conventional cigarettes, but most of them were non-users. Only one-third had been vaping. Study participants were tracked for one year and asked if they had ever smoked and how much.
Of the 343 non-smoking teens that had tried e-cigarettes, 118 (34%) acknowledged they tried a real cigarette within a year. Of the 1,383 non-smoking teens that had never used e-cigarettes, just 124 (9%) took up smoking.
Peer Pressure Is Not That Important
Lead author Mark Conner, who teaches psychology at the University of Leeds, in the U.K. noted that vaping is a “strong predictor” that teen users will use a regular cigarette within 12 months.
It is unclear if these teens were only experimenting with smoking or became full-fledged smokers.
What’s more, e-cigarette users started smoking even when they didn’t have a network of smoking friends. The numbers contradict the commonly-held belief that peer-pressure from smokers might be behind e-cigarette users’ risk of taking up smoking. But the latest study revealed a heightened risk regardless of the network of friends of the e-cigarette user.
Professor Sarah Grogan, who co-authored the paper, noted that teens who use e-cigarettes but have no smoking friends had a higher risk of taking up smoking that non-users with smoking friends.
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