e-cigaretteSmoking electronic (or e-) cigarettes may encourage adolescents to smoke the real thing, according to a study published online March 6 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The results of the study contradict claims by the e-cigarette industry that their products can help people quit smoking. By establishing an association between “vaping” and smoking, it also bolsters the argument that e-cigarettes may act as a gateway for young people to smoke cigarettes.

Researchers took up the subject because e-cigarette use is increasing rapidly among adolescents, and e-cigarettes are currently unregulated. U.S. middle and high school students were surveyed about their e-cigarette use as well as their smoking experiences – with experimental, ongoing or abstaining from.

Their conclusions?

“Use of e-cigarettes was associated with higher odds of ever or current cigarette smoking, higher odds of established smoking, higher odds of planning to quit smoking among current smokers, and, among experimenters, lower odds of abstinence from conventional cigarettes,” according to the study’s authors.

“Use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among US adolescents.”