Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) found no evidence that young people were being recruited to smoking because of e-cigarettes, despite a rise in the number of 11- to 18-year-olds who claim to have tried the vaporiser.
In 2013, 4% of 11- to 18-year-olds said they had tried e-cigarettes “once or twice”, but, in 2015, the figure had risen to 10%.
However, regular use remained rare, with 2.4% of young people claiming to smoke the devices at least once a month.
Regular smoking among 11- to 15-year-olds is at an all-time low of 3%, according to Government figures. Ash claims this indicates that the increase in awareness and use of e-cigarettes has not coincided with a rise in teenage smokers.
The authors said that there was a rise in the number of young people who thought e-cigarettes were as harmful as smoking tobacco.
Hazel Cheeseman, who is the director of policy at Ash, said: “These results should reassure the public that electronic cigarettes are not linked with any rise in young people smoking. Although more young people are trying electronic cigarettes and many more young people are aware of them, this has not led to widespread regular use or an increase in smoking.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, who is the national director for health and well-being at Public Health England, said: “This survey provides further confirmation that regular use of electronic cigarettes is still low and largely confined to young people who are already smokers.
“The new law prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to young people under the age of 18 — which is due to take effect on October 1 — will further reduce teenagers’ access to these products and will reinforce the message that they are intended for adult smokers who want to cut down, or stop, smoking.”