New research from UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center suggests ads for e-cigarettes may persuade young adults to try regular cigarettes.

The research is published in the March 26 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

The study involved 10,989 young people ages 12 to 24 who said they had never smoked.

Participants were exposed to a variety of ads for smoking products and were interviewed one year later.

Those who remembered, or liked, the e-cigarette ads were significantly more likely to have smoked a cigarette within the past year. In fact, the study found receptivity to e-cigarette advertising increased the odds that someone would try cigarette smoking by 60 percent.

UCSD Moores Cancer Center professor emeritus of cancer prevention John Pierce, who led the study, said tobacco companies face heavy restrictions on cigarette advertising.

“This looks like they may be able to use e-cigarette advertising to get around them," he said. "And we’ve noticed that all the main tobacco companies now have got an e-cigarette product. And so, they’re all in the game.”

Pierce added that tobacco companies are trying to find ways to increase smoking.

“Cigarette smoking’s been going down, particularly in California," he said. "It’s been going down dramatically, especially among young people. We’ve seen that flatten out lately, and the question is can they turn it around and start having it go back up again.”

E-cigarettes are touted as a way for smokers to quit their tobacco habit. 

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