LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Many teens who would have never smoked cigarettes now turn to inhaling nicotine through vaping, according to a new study conducted by the University of Southern California.
USC researchers examined how many adolescents turned to e-cigarettes as a substitute to tobacco cigarettes.
Before the advent of e-cigarettes in 2004, about nine percent of high school seniors studied were smokers. Now, researchers said about 13 percent of teens use either cigarettes, e-cigarettes or both.
"E-cig use has taken away the almost five decades of public health gains in the decreasing use of tobacco products," Pediatrician John Mangoni stated.
The latest data published in the Journal of Pediatrics revealed tobacco use among high school seniors hasn't changed in the last decade.
"They think that e-cig use will decrease the use of conventional cigarettes, but there's no scientific evidence to show it does," Mangoni explained.
Mangoni also expressed concern for the liquids used in e-cigarettes that he said appeal to teenagers. They range in flavors from gummy bear, chocolate to cotton candy.
While e-cigarettes may appear to be safer than traditional cigarettes, experts warn many still have nicotine and aren't risk free.
"In terms of bronchitis, C.O.P.D., asthma, these are problems we don't know about yet," Mangoni said.
E-cigarettes were first introduced as a smoking cessation device, with many stating the product helped them to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes.
"My habit was just the puffing," Victoria Stone, who switched from a conventional smoker to vaping juices containing zero nicotine, said.
But Stone added while it's been a positive for her, she doesn't like the idea of teens learning to vape at an early age.
"It's a really bad thing. Some people can seriously pick up some very bad habits," Stone warned.
USC researchers also reported adolescents who vaped were six times more likely to smoke cigarettes than those who don't.