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  • A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City, Dec. 18, 2013.

    A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City, Dec. 18, 2013. | Photo: Reuters

Those who vaped more also reported smoking 18 percent more cigarettes, the study found.

Tobacco companies have been selling electronic cigarettes as a way to wean smokers off paper cigarettes, but a new study suggests the strategy could backfire.

The report in Preventive Medicine found that young adults who occasionally smoked conventional cigarettes smoked more of them if they also used e-cigarettes – battery-powered gadgets that heat liquid nicotine into vapor.

“The participants who were vaping ended up using more cigarettes. It’s actually a risk factor for increasing their cigarette use,” lead author Neal Doran said in a phone interview.

“They’re not using e-cigarettes to try to stop smoking,” said Doran, a psychologist and psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Though smokers have been turning to e-cigarettes since they came on the market in 2007 as a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco, little is known about the long-term effects of the practice known as “vaping.”

E-cigarette use grew 900 percent among high school students from 2011 through 2015, according to a report from U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. The 2016 report declares e-cigarettes “unsafe” for youth and young adults (http://bit.ly/2sKHv9P).

The new study’s findings are “consistent with the worry that, regardless of whether vaping is itself unsafe, vaping causes worse outcomes because it leads to more consumption of cigarettes,” Doran said.

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