ADVERTISEMENTS for chocolate and bubble gum-flavoured e-cigarettes could attract children to try vaping, according to the results of a new study.

The research, carried out by the University of Cambridge for the Department of Health, examined concerns that the use of e-cigarettes among children and adolescents could lead to tobacco smoking.

The study found school children shown adverts for candy-flavoured e-cigarettes expressed greater interest in buying and trying them than their peers.

It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes and e-liquids to under-18s in the UK, but their use rose from 5 per cent in 2013 to 8 per cent in 2014, researchers from the university’s Behaviour and Health Research Unit said.

Milica Vasiljevic, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Cambridge, said: “We’re cautiously optimistic from our results that e-cigarette ads don’t make tobacco smoking more attractive, but we’re concerned that ads for e-cigarettes with flavours that might appeal to school children could encourage them to try the products.”

The researchers said candy and liqueur-flavoured tobacco products were heavily marketed towards young people from the 1970s to 2009 when regulations were imposed.

E-cigarettes are now being marketed in about 8,000 different flavours.

The researchers said that the study supported moves for greater regulation of advertising for e-cigarettes, including rules that adverts must not be likely to appeal to under-18s.