Just over 12% of 14 to 17 year olds have tried an electronic cigarette (e-cig), new research has revealed.

The research, carried out by the Health Equalities Group (HEG) and the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, used data from Trading Standards North West’s recent survey of 6,000 students.

E-cig usage was significantly higher in students who already smoked tobacco cigarettes at 42%, while 12.3% of minors who had never smoked a tobacco cigarette had tried an e-cig.

E-cig usage was also much more common among those minors who accessed tobacco cigarettes from unregulated sources such as street sellers, neighbours and private houses.

More than 60.2% of young people that had accessed e-cigs had parents or guardians who smoked.

Young people most likely to use e-cigs were “already engaged in risky substance use behaviours, including cigarette smoking, binge drinking, drinking in unsupervised settings, and alcohol-related violence,” the report said.

The House of Lords backed plans to outlaw the sale of e-cigs in February. The new law, brought about by amendments to the Children and Families Bill, will also include the creation of an offence for proxy purchasing e-cigs as well as tobacco cigarettes for under 18s. It is expected to come into force this autumn.

The report also called for the new law to be supported by education for parents and other adults.

“Other family members and proxy purchasers recruited outside shops are already key sources of access to e-cigs for young people,” it added.

Guidance should also be developed for schools and youth services to help them talk to young people about e-cig use, it concluded.