June 28 (UPI) -- Researchers at Dartmouth Norris Cotton Cancer Center have found that electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, use increases the risk of cigarette smoking in youth.
E-cigarette use now exceeds the rate of cigarette smoking in adolescents and young adults after steadily rising since the product was introduced in the United States in 2007.
For the study, published June 26 in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers analyzed several published studies beginning with non-smoking youth, asking whether initial e-cigarette use increased the risk of transition to tobacco cigarette use.
The study showed a greater risk between initial e-cigarette use and later cigarette smoking.
Of the 17,389 adolescents and young adults age 14 to 30, e-cigarette use was associated with an increased risk of future cigarette smoking initiation.
"The finding is very consistent across studies," Dr. James Sargent, of Dartmouth University, said in a press release. "That along with the strength of the association makes it probable that e-cigarette use is one cause of cigarette smoking. E-cigarette use could affect population trends in youth smoking if use becomes more common, and that is the big public health concern."
Researchers theorized e-cigarette use leads to regular cigarette smoking because e-cigarettes mimic smoking behavior and the aerosol contains nicotine.