More than one in two teens who use e-cigarettes have never smoked, a study has revealed.
Nearly 53 per cent of kids aged 11 to 16 who start vaping are non-smokers.
The study by researchers at Coventry University suggests youngsters who might never have smoked are becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarettes instead.
Researchers found many young teens had no idea the devices contained nicotine and that they could become hooked on them – previous research has found people who use the e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to start smoking tobacco.
The scientists are calling for better education warning adolescents against experimenting with the gadgets.
E-cigarettes are thought of as a safer option, scientists at Coventry University say, but past research has revealed they may be harmful and can make people more likely to smoke tobacco in future
Electronic cigarettes were developed to help smokers quit and, although they contain nicotine, they are reportedly free of the other toxins that harm smokers’ lungs.
But there has been growing concern about their use by teenagers who have never smoked.
The Coventry research team quizzed almost 500 pupils aged from 11 to 16 at schools across Warwickshire to identify how many regularly vaped.
Nearly 53 per cent have never touched tobacco
E-CIGARETTES MAY DAMAGE BLOOD VESSELS
The flavourings used in electronic cigarettes may damage blood vessels in the same way as heart disease, according to research.
Although using e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’, is claimed to be healthier than smoking tobacco, evidence suggests it is still bad for your body.
The chemicals used to give the vapour flavours, such as cinnamon, strawberry and banana, may cause inflammation in cells in the arteries, veins and heart.
They causes the body to react in a way that mimics the early signs of heart disease, heart attacks or strokes, scientists at Boston University found.
The damage is done by the flavourings reducing levels of nitric oxide in the blood vessels, which makes them more likely to swell or clot, and reduces their ability to expand when there is more blood – which could lead to higher blood pressure.
The results showed just under 53 per cent of those using e-cigarettes had never touched tobacco.
The pupils, of both sexes, said they knew the devices were safer than real cigarettes but were largely unaware they contained the addictive substance nicotine, which could increase the likelihood of them trying tobacco later on.
Earlier this year, US scientists found teenagers who start vaping are two-and-a-half times more likely to become regular smokers within a year.
E-cigarettes are a ‘gateway’ to tobacco
The study of 10,000 12 to 17-year-olds found e-cigarettes are a gateway to the real thing because they were inducing nicotine dependence.
Scientists think teenagers who vape may find their cravings are satisfied more effectively by traditional cigarettes.
In a report on the latest findings researchers said: ‘Electronic cigarettes are known for their use as a smoking cessation aid.
‘Young people think vaping is a safe option’
‘But experimental use in adolescence is a growing international concern and the proportion of adolescent e-cig users who have never used tobacco is rising.
‘Young people who deem them as a ‘safe’ option and may otherwise have never experimented with tobacco could be at risk of later tobacco use.’
The research was published in in the journal Public Health.