The sharp increase in the use of e-cigarettes has not led more British children to take up cigarettes or regard smoking as normal, the first study of its kind has shown.

Some health experts and anti-smoking groups have expressed concern that the growth of e-cigarettes might normalise the idea of smoking for young people.

But the study led by Cardiff University researchers suggests the number of teenagers who said they had tried smoking or thought it was acceptable to smoke has continued to fall despite the rise in e-cigarette use.

The study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, examined data from England, Wales and Scotland, and found that from 1998 to 2015 the percentage of children aged between 13 and 15 who had smoked decreased from 60% to 19%, while regular smokers in the same age group fell from 19% to 5%.

It also reported that the percentage of young people who reported that trying a cigarette was “OK” declined from 70% in 1999 to 27% in 2015.

The report also points out that in the same period there was a fall in cannabis and alcohol use.

The analysis, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and conducted in collaboration with academics from Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow and Bristol, focused on three national surveys canvassing the views of almost 250,000 young people.

Dr Graham Moore, based at the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, said: “These findings suggest that fears over a resurgence in youth tobacco smoking because of the rise in e-cigarette use are largely unfounded to date.

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Steven Morris The Guardian – April 1, 2019.

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