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The answer

This is a good question and one that scientific researchers have also been asking. A team at the University of Bristol recently published a systematic review and meta-analysis summarising the current evidence and stated that there was a strong association between e-cigarette use in non-smokers and later smoking, particularly in under 18s and in those living in the UK. This was in comparison to young people who neither vape or smoke: 30 per cent of those who vaped went on to smoke compared to eight per cent of non-vapers.

However, despite the fact that the work looked at over 57,000 people involved in 17 studies and confirmed other previous findings, the researchers said that there isn’t just one factor at play and that many other things need taking into account when considering if someone who vapes goes on to smoke. For example, age, gender, ethnicity, friends’ smoking habits, other drug or alcohol use, or the presence of other risk-seeking behaviours, also play a part.

Having said that, this significant piece of work further strengthens the need to avoid encouraging young people to vape, for example by protecting them from advertising about vaping, and ensuring the message is strong and consistent in terms of only promoting electronic cigarettes as a way of helping people to stop smoking rather than being a lifestyle choice.