Teens are more likely to give electronic cigarettes a try if they attend schools where use of the devices is common, a new study suggests.
The researchers found that differences in e-cigarette use between schools increased over time. This finding suggests that certain schools play a larger role in increasing teen use of e-cigarettes than other schools do. The researchers believe that there’s something in the culture of those schools that encourages the use of these devices.
“Our results indicate that there are certain types of schools that facilitate higher rates of e-cigarette use among students,” said study leader Adam Lippert, an assistant professor of sociology at University of Colorado Denver.
Data for the study was collected from U.S. middle and high schools between 2011 and 2013 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings showed that e-cigarette use didn’t seem to be affected by whether students smoked regular cigarettes or knew someone who did.
In schools with high rates of e-cigarette use, there may be a widespread belief that the devices are less harmful than regular cigarettes, the researchers said. Educators need to take such beliefs, along with the number of students using e-cigarettes, into account when trying to reduce e-cigarette use, Lippert said in a university news release.
E-cigarette use by American teens has risen dramatically since 2011. In 2015, the devices were used by more than 3 million middle and high school students, according to the CDC.