Teens' perceptions of e-cigarettes are influenced by friends and family, a new study concludes.
If friends and family view the devices as cool or acceptable, a teen is more likely to use them.
Forty-one percent of the more than 2,000 teens included in the study who said they had recently used e-cigarettes had never tried traditional cigarettes, Reuters reports.
"There is a lot of concern by the public health community that e-cigarettes may be recruiting a whole new group of people who never smoked cigarettes," said lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Overall, about 25 percent of teens in the study said they had tried e-cigarettes, while about 20 percent said they had tried traditional cigarettes.
They were more likely to use e-cigarettes or regular cigarettes if either product was used at home, if friends used them, or if peers had positive views of the products.
The study found 14 percent of teens thought e-cigarettes are not harmful, compared with about 1 percent who thought regular cigarettes are not harmful. The teens said their
peers were more likely to accept their e-cigarette use than traditional cigarette use.
The findings are published in Pediatrics.
Barrington-Trimis said parents should tell their children that while there is not much research yet about the health effects of e-cigarettes, nicotine is known to impact young people's developing brains. She added that little is known about chemicals used to create flavorings in e-liquids.