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The most alarming study on e-cigarettes yet

Justin Sullivan

Teens' e-cigarette use more than tripled between 2011 and 2013, new federal data shows.

In 2011, there were 79,000 middle and high school students who said they had used e-cigarettes. Two years later, that number grew to 263,000. That's a significant increase in relatively small frame of time, especially when teens' use of cigarettes has been declining.

What is arguably the worst news though, is how teen use of e-cigarettes interacted with intentions to smoke actual cigarettes in the future. Forty-four percent of those who used e-cigarettes said they intended to smoke in the future. That was more than twice the rate those who had never used an electronic tobacco product.

This is the first study to explore how e-cigarette use as a teen could interact with smoking habits in the future. While e-cigarette manufacturers have positioned themselves as a way to help current smokers quit, this raises the possibility of the opposite phenomena: e-cigarettes as a gateway to future smoking.