Teenagers will try anything once. Luckily, according to a recent Welsh study, once is likely to be enough when it comes to using e-cigarettes. The study revealed very few teens become regular users and the few teens who did most likely smoked conventional cigarettes first. This suggests that e-cigarettes alone are not likely to have a large influence on adolescent nicotine addiction.

The study quizzed 1,601 children aged 10 to 11 and 9,055 11- to 16-year-olds on their experience with e-cigarettes, according to a recent press release. Results revealed that in all age groups, besides the 15- to 16-year-olds, trying e-cigarettes “at least once” was more common than having smoked a conventional cigarette.

While a small percentage of the teens had tried e-cigarettes, an even smaller percentage took them up as a regular habit. What's more, the amount of teens who regularly smoked e-cigarettes but had never smoked a conventional cigarette was only 0.3 percent. The study found that e-cigarette use rose when other substance use was taken into context. For example, weekly conventional smokers were 100 times higher than non-smokers who regularly use e-cigs, and teens who smoked cannabis were 50 times higher than those who regularly smoke e-cigs. These figures led the researchers involved in the study to conclude that e-cigarettes posed no sizable threat to the adolescent nicotine addiction and was also not likely to act as a gateway drug to conventional smoking.

This conclusion goes directly against a 2014 CDC survey which concluded that e-cigarettes were likely to both cause nicotine addiction in teenagers and lead them to take up conventional smoking habits. While the researchers involved in the most recent Welsh study admit that the general lack of consensus of what constitutes “use” of an e-cigarettes makes gathering information on the topic challenging, for the most part it didn’t seem as though e-cigarettes were as big of a hit with the younger generation as previous news reports claimed.

E-cigarettes have been marketed as a “safer” alternative to conventional smoking, but this claim has been recently challenged by those who insist there is not enough information on the relatively new product to show whether it is safe or not.

"It's unknown whether these chemicals are harmful if you inhale them," Jonathan Thornburg, lead researcher of an FDA investigation into e-cig safety explained, as reported by HealthDay. "A lot of the chemicals are considered safe, but that's from an ingestion perspective, not inhalation."

Trends in e-cigarette use show that conventional smokers are most likely to use the product. However, about of third of adult users consider themselves to be non-conventional smokers. According to the researchers, more data is needed in this area before any concrete conclusions are drawn on younger generations use of e-cigarettes.

Source: Moore G, Hewitt G, Evans J, Littlecott HJ. Electronic-cigarette use among young people in Wales: evidence from two cross-sectional surveys. British Medical Journal. 2015.