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expert reaction to study of e-cigarette use and cigarette smoking in children

Publishing in the journal Tobacco Control a group of scientists have examined how use of e-cigarettes is related to subsequent smoking behaviour, and report that those who use e-cigarettes were more likely to start smoking cigarettes. A Before the Headlines analysis accompanied these comments.

All our previous output on this subject can be seen here. The SMC also produced a Factsheet on e-cigarettes.


Prof. Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling, Deputy Director of UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, and Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK, said:

“This is the third published study from the USA suggesting that young people who have tried e-cigarettes at baseline are more likely to have tried tobacco smoking at follow up (in this case one year later).

“However, if you look more closely at the paper any assumptions that one leads to the other are not supported, as is the case with previous studies.  In particular in this paper, more frequent use (compared to experimentation) of both e-cigarettes and tobacco at baseline and follow up was low and did not significantly increase – around 8% for e-cigarettes and 4% for tobacco at both time points.

“This study does not provide evidence that e-cigarettes are a gateway to regular smoking in teenagers.  It is important that ongoing research on this topic is conducted, including in the UK, where e-cigarette age of sale laws already exist and significant marketing restrictions will be introduced from May this year.  Such measures are important to protect children, as electronic cigarettes are products for adult smokers who wish to cut down and stop smoking.”


‘Longitudinal study of e-cigarette use and onset of cigarette smoking among high school students in Hawaii’ by Thomas A Wills et al. published in Tobacco Control on Monday 25 January 2016.


Declared interests

Prof. Bauld: None declared

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