Research lead by the University of Stirling has suggested young people who have tried e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to smoke tobacco compared to those who haven’t.
Dr Catherine Best, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling, said: “Our findings are broadly similar to those from eight other US studies; however, this is the first study to report from the UK.
“Uniquely, we also found that e-cigarette use had a greater impact on the odds of cigarette experimentation in young never smokers who had a firm intention not to smoke and/or whose friends didn’t smoke. Traditionally, this is the group of young people least likely to take up smoking.”
The research of Display Team, a collaboration between Stirling, St Andrew’s and Edinburgh university and ScotCen focused on pupils at four Scottish secondary schools. Those aged between 11 and 18 were surveyed in early 2015 and then again one year later.
The 2015 survey found that among the 2,125 never smokers, 183 (8.6%) said that they had tried an e-cigarette and 1,942 had not. However, the survey in 2016 revealed that 74 (40.4%) of those who had tried an e-cigarette in the initial 2015 survey, went on to smoke a cigarette in the following 12 months – in contrast to 249 (12.8%) of young people who had not tried an e-cigarette.
Sally Haw, Professor of Public and Population Health at Stirling, added: “The greater impact of e-cigarette use on young people thought to be at lower risk of starting smoking is of particular concern.
“Further research is required to discover how experimentation with e-cigarettes might influence attitudes to smoking in young people traditionally at lower risk of becoming smokers; and importantly how many of this group who do experiment with cigarettes go on to smoke regularly.”