Teenagers are accessing e-cigarettes for experimentation according to a new study by BMC Public Health.
The study has called for an urgent need to control the promotion and sales of e-cigarettes to children after 19.2% of 14-15 year old school students were found to have access to e-cigarettes in north west England.
‘To many people the numbers we’ve identified might come as a bit of a shock,’ Prof Mark Bellis told the BBC.
‘This is just being drawn into a repertoire – another drug that people can use to experiment with rather than being seen as an alternative to tobacco.’
Of those that had accessed e-cigarettes, 15.8% had never smoked conventional cigarettes and 13.6% were ex-smokers.
The study concludes that there is a substantial number of teenagers accessing e-cigarettes, including those who have never smoked conventional tobacco products.
However, it continues by saying that those most likely to access e-cigarettes are those who engage in other substance-related risk behaviours including regular smoking, binge drinking, drinking to get drunk and alcohol-related violence.
‘We need to protect children and young people from the harms of nicotine by regulating electronic cigarettes,’ Dr John Middleton, of the Faculty of Public Health, told the BBC.
‘Our concern is that if we wait for proof that electronic cigarettes could act as a gateway to smoking cigarettes, it will already have happened and the tobacco industry will have been given the opportunity to recruit its next generation of smokers.’