A man smokes an electronic cigarette vaporizer, also known as an e-cigarette, in Toronto, August 7, 2015. Many of the world's junior miners are laying down their picks and shovels to start new ventures ranging from egg exporting to e-cigarette company, as they as try to survive a crash in metals prices by shifting away from exploration. Picture taken on August 7, 2015. Reuters/Mark Blinch

A research published online in the journal Tobacco Control has found out that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try real cigarettes a year later. Moreover, the researchers also established a link between regular smoking and higher levels of e-cigarette use at the outset.

The study also indicates that it may be beneficial to restrict teenagers from accessing e-cigarettes. The study has been conducted when health experts are having heated arguments regarding the effects of e-cigarettes, their health benefits and potential impact on teenagers.

In 2013, the researchers quizzed 2,338 teenagers from Hawaii and from seven high schools. All of them were ninth and tenth graders and had an average age of just under 10 years. The purpose was to find whether vaping actually helps teen smokers quit smoking or it increases the risks of taking up regular smoking. The teenagers were quizzed again a year later about their smoking and vaping activities.

The teenagers were asked on their tobacco use and frequency of using e-cigarettes. The study also assessed other factors such as parental education attainment, home environment and degree of rebelliousness.

According to the findings, teenagers who were using e-cigarettes in 2013 were almost three times more likely to have switched to regular smoking a year later in 2014 than the ones who had not vaped during the first survey in 2013.

An additional analysis revealed that any level of e-cigarette use in 2013 was associated with smoking once or twice, or three or four times, by 2014. However, regular smoking was only associated with higher levels of e-cigarette use in 2013.

“This suggests that e-cigarette use among adolescents is not without behavioural costs," the study reads. "These findings should be considered for policy discussions about the availability of e-cigarettes to adolescents,” the study stated.

Thirty-one percent of the overall sample, who had used e-cigarettes by 2013, rose to 38 percent by 2014. Some 15 percent had smoked at least one cigarette in 2013 and that rose to 21 percent by 2014. About 98 percent of the students who were quizzed in 2013 had heard of e-cigarettes and considered them to be a healthier alternative to regular smoking.

Out of those who had not smoked in 2013, one in 10 had tried cigarettes by the second round of survey. The transition from being a non-user of either tobacco or e-cigarettes or both to being a user by 2014 was mostly associated with older age, greater rebelliousness, and white or Native Hawaiian ethnicity. This transition was less likely in teens who had better levels of education and family support.