E-cigarette fears for children
Three times as many children in Wales have tried e-cigarettes as have smoked tobacco, according to new figures.
Six per cent of 10-to-11-year-old children have used the electronic cigarettes compared to 2% trying real tobacco, a study by the Welsh Government found .
The Childhood Exposure To Tobacco Smoke (CHETS) study said children who tried e-cigarettes were seven times more likely to say they might start smoking within two years.
They were also more likely to use e-cigarettes if their parents were smokers.
Heath officials said the findings demonstrated concerns that using the devices could become a nicotine "gateway".
Wales's Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: "These latest findings shine further light on the potential impact of e-cigarettes on our children and young people.
"I am concerned the use of e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to, and re-normalise, smoking, especially for a generation who have grown up in a largely smoke-free society."
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said the research was a landmark study.
"It is the first of its kind in the UK to find the number of children who have tried e-cigarettes to be higher than the number who have tried smoking," she added.
"This again emphasises that e-cigarettes are still an emerging and evolving technology, and that we need to keep a watchful eye on how they are being used, particularly by children.
"Although there is no evidence that vaping is anywhere near as harmful as smoking, e-cigarettes are not recommended for children or non-smokers, at least until more research has been conducted into their long-term health impacts."