The number of middle and high school students experimenting with e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012, according to a study released Thursday.
The study, authored in part by the Center for Tobacco Research and Education and the University of California, San Francisco also noted that electronic cigarette smokers were in no way less likely to smoke conventional cigarettes.
"We also saw that the kids who'd used e-cigarettes were more likely to progress from experimenting with conventional tobacco cigarettes to becoming regular tobacco cigarette users," Dr. Lauren Dutra, from the University of California, San Francisco told NBC News.
Dutra was part of the team that examined data from two large national surveys that each looked at 20,000 middle and high school kids.
The number of kids who tried e-cigarettes doubled from 3 percent in 2011 to 6.5 percent in 2012, according to the study.
"It's increasing so rapidly that we're really concerned about what we're going to see in the future,” Dutra said.
E-cigarettes are marketed the same way conventional cigarettes were marketed in the 1950s and 1960s, using television and radio ads. This type of marketing for conventional cigarettes has been banned for more than 40 years.
“Studies have shown that exposing young people to cigarette advertising can cause them to start smoking,” according to the study.
There’s also a growing concern that the vaping devices could be modified to be used with other drugs or alcohol.
"I've even heard stories of kids filling these devices with vodka and trying to vape vodka,” Dutra said.
Some experts say the nicotine delivered through these devices can alter the developing teen brain.
“There’s a part of the brain called the limbic system that is very susceptible to the effects of nicotine and it relates to behavior control as well as emotional development,” Dr. David Tinkelman, who focuses on the management of asthma and pulmonary disease, told NBC News.
NBC4 medical expert Dr. Bruce Hensel suggests that e-cigarettes may be useful for smokers who want to quit, “but only for a short time and kids should not use them at all.”