Never-smokers who tried e-cigarettes were almost three times as likely to smoke cigarettes a year later compared with those who had never had an e-cigarette.
Just under a third of more than 2,300 students had used e-cigarettes when they were first questioned in 2013 at the age of 14, the study published in the journal Tobacco Control found.
"This suggests that e-cigarette use among adolescents is not without behavioural costs." Dr Thomas Wills,University of Hawaii Cancer Center
Some 20 per cent of those who used e-cigarettes had smoked real cigarettes by the time of the second survey a year later, compared with just six per cent of those who had never used them.
The researchers from the University of Hawaii concluded that e-cigarettes increased the likelihood of smoking by nearly three times.
Dr Thomas Wills, Prevention and Control Program, University of Hawaii Cancer Center said: "This suggests that e-cigarette use among adolescents is not without behavioural costs.
"These findings should be considered for policy discussions about the availability of e-cigarettes to adolescents."
The study comes as charity Cancer Research UK said the Government should make the tobacco industry pay for the damage it causes.
It said cuts to public health funding mean local stop smoking services are closing, but industry should "cough up" for such services.
By charging tobacco firms around 1p per cigarette sold in the UK, an extra £500m could be raised, it said.
E-cigarettes may encourage teens to take up smoking, a study suggests
According to Cancer Research UK's analysis, smoking continues to kill more than 100,000 people in the UK every year.
The tobacco industry makes a profit of more than £4,000 for every UK death caused by tobacco.
Internationally, it makes around £30 billion in profit.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK's director of cancer prevention, said: "For too long the tobacco industry has had an easy ride, making money without having to spend a single pound on the damage its products cause.
"It continues to profit from selling a highly addictive and lethal product that causes illness and death. Tobacco companies make billions of pounds every year, so we'd like to see them using their profits to keep stop smoking services open and fund advertising campaigns to help people quit.
"At a time when health budgets are stretched, this is a simple solution to a lethal problem. We urge the Government to make the industry cough up."
In England in 2014, fewer than one in five 11 to 15-year-olds said they had smoked at least once, according to survey of more than 6,000 pupils - the lowest level recorded since the survey began in 1982.
However, more than a fifth had used e-cigarettes at least once, including most pupils who smoked cigarettes regularly.
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director for health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: "In the UK, regular use of e-cigarettes among young people is almost entirely limited to those who have already smoked.
"Reassuringly, while e-cigarette use has increased rapidly, rates of youth smoking have fallen to the lowest ever recorded.
"Unlike much of the US, in England it is an offence to sell e-cigarettes to under-18s or to buy e-cigarettes for them and already restricted advertising is set to tighten further with new EU regulations later this year."