It has been debated that teenage use of e-cigarettes may increase the risk of tobacco smoking in the future. A new study shows that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to pursue with tobacco or cigarette smoking after one year.

In a study published in the journal Tobacco Control, the researchers found that teens who tried e-cigarettes even if they never smoked in the past, were nearly three times more likely to go on smoking cigarettes a year later than those who never tried e-cigarettes.

The study indicates that restricting teens from using e-cigarettes and barring their access to these devices are important. To land to their findings, the researchers conducted a poll among 2,338 teens at seven high schools in 2013. Another assessment was done about their use of e-cigarettes and smoking a year later. All the participants were 9th and 10th graders in Hawaii.

The results showed that 31 percent of the teens used e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study and the number increased to 38 percent in 2014. About 15 percent smoked at least one cigarette in 2013 and then jumped up to 21 percent after one year.

Among the students who never tried e-cigarettes in 2013, one in 10 tried using it by the following year, 2 percent experimented with tobacco smoking and 4 percent tried both. When all the students were asked if they think e-cigarette use is healthier than smoking, 68 percent said yes, while 98 percent overall admitted they heard of e-cigarettes.

"This suggests that e-cigarette use among adolescents is not without behavioral costs," the researchers said.

"These findings should be considered for policy discussions about the availability of e-cigarettes to adolescents," they added.

The researchers found that teens with greater levels of family support and education were less likely to be influenced to make the transition from non-user of either e-cigarettes or tobacco to use of both by 2014.

One of the problems health government agencies face is the rampant online sales and the emergence of e-cigarette advertisements. Since e-cigarettes are not yet thoroughly regulated, teenagers are exposed to these advertisements.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 18 million middle and high school students in the United States were exposed to e-cigarette ads in 2014. More than half of high school students (about 8 million) have seen e-cigarette ads in retail stores and more than 6 million have seen them online.

Photo: Terry Ozon | Flickr

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