E-cigarettes may be tempting to both smokers and non-smokers

E-cigarettes may be tempting to both smokers and non-smokers
Highlights

A new research has demonstrated that e-cigarettes are being accessed by teenagers who are both smokers and non-smokers.The study showed that one in five teenagers in a large survey has accessed e-cigarettes, and of these, 16 percent have never otherwise smoked.

A new research has demonstrated that e-cigarettes are being accessed by teenagers who are both smokers and non-smokers.The study showed that one in five teenagers in a large survey has accessed e-cigarettes, and of these, 16 percent have never otherwise smoked.

Researchers from Liverpool John Moores University surveyed 16,193 secondary school students in the north west of England aged from 14 to 17 years. They were asked about their alcohol and tobacco-related behaviors. This was part of a biennial survey conducted in partnership with Trading Standards whose remit includes enforcing regulations on the sale of age-restricted products in the UK.
One in five teenagers who responded to the survey said they had accessed e-cigarettes, this figure was higher in males and increasing with age and if living in a deprived area and of the teenagers that had accessed e-cigarettes, 15.8 percent had never smoked, 23.3 percent had tried smoking but didn't like it, 35.8 percent were regular smokers, 11.6 percent only smoked when drinking, and 13.6 percent were ex-smokers.
The team found that there was also an association between alcohol and e-cigarette access and students who drank alcohol were significantly more likely to have accessed e-cigarettes than non-drinkers. Among those who had never smoked, it was found that those who regularly binge drank were four times more likely to access e-cigarettes than those who didn't drink.
The researchers note that as these data are self-reported there could be under or over-reporting of the figures due to various factors such as poor recall or lack of knowledge and as there are little data on e-cigarette use in children or adults, these findings are not representative of all teenagers in England or the North West region.
Another author on the study, Mark Bellis says said that the research suggested that they should be very concerned about teenagers accessing e-cigarettes and while debate on e-cigarettes had focused largely on whether or not they act as a gateway to tobacco cigarette use, e-cigarettes themselves contained a highly addictive drug that may have more serious and longer lasting impacts on children because their brains are still developing.
Despite being practically unheard of just a decade ago, e-cigarettes are now widely available, heavily promoted yet weakly regulated and our study found that one in five 14-17 year old school children in the North West has accessed them.
The study is published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.
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