CDC: Most teens experiment with vapes out of curiosity - not because of flavors

In line with various other research studies, recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that over 55 percent of teens only experiment with vaping due to good, old-fashioned curiosity – not the vaping flavors.   And while over 27 percent of curious teens choose to experiment with vapor products, over 94 percent are choosing to ignore combustible tobacco cigarettes altogether – the lowest percentage in U.S. history.  

The CDC partially extracted the data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) which confirms the arguments of numerous anti-smoking experts which suggest individual personality traits play a significant role in substance abuse initiation.  With this in mind, the comparatively increased safety of vaping to smoking should be considered a victory from a public health perspective.  In 2016, the UK’s Public Health England rated vapor products as 95 percent less harmful than smoking.

Related Article:   PHE responds: Can expelled e-cig vapor transmit COVID-19?

Regarding vaping specifically, the CDC states that “multiple factors” can influence a teenager’s initial decision to experiment.  In a recent press release, the CDC outlined the three most common reasons.

“Among students who reported ever having tried e-cigarettes, the three most common reasons for use were 'I was curious about them' (55.3%), 'friend or family member used them' (30.8%), and 'they are available in flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate' (22.4%). Among students who never used e-cigarettes, 39.1% were curious about using e-cigarettes and 37.0% were curious about smoking cigarettes.”

While the CDC report indicates steady declines in underage smoking rates, many anti-vapers often highlight the seemingly upwards trends in teen vaping being a critical concern.  However, public health experts warn that these figures are often misleading.

For example, the CDC data implies that 27.5 percent of high schoolers are active, daily vapers.  However, this figure is misleading because the CDC report does not distinguish between regular users and teens who might have only experimented with vaping within the last thirty days.

Public Health Expert: Teen vaping is ‘mostly experimental’ and far less addictive than smoking

Dr Attila Danko of New Nicotine Alliance Australia says that statistics like those published by the CDC can be terribly deceptive – perhaps even intentionally so.  Danko – who supports vaping as a stop smoking aid – says that the recent CDC report really only indicates one major point:

Teen who are the most likely to experiment with vaping possess the same personality traits that make them just as likely to want to experiment with combustible tobacco cigarettes.  And smoking is not only 95 percent more toxic, it’s also significantly more highly addictive.     

“But the truth is, the use among young people is mostly experimental. They have found that teenagers who tried e-cigarettes also tried smoking. They’ve said that because they tried e-cigarettes and then they tried smoking, the e-cigarettes must have led to the smoking. But it’s just not the case.”

Related Article:  Survey shows 53% of Americans mistakenly believe that nicotine is carcinogenic

Conveniently, many anti-vaping activists tend to ignore the data compiled through multiple vaping studies conducted by the international scientific community which indicate that vaping is not as addictive as smoking.  However, research conducted by America’s own Penn State College of Medicine (PSCM) confirms the message that vaping is far less addictive.

In the PSCM study which was funded by the National Institutes of Health (PATH) and the Center for Tobacco Products, lead author Guodong Liu specifically says, “No doubt about it, e-cigarettes are addictive, but not at the same level as traditional cigarettes.”  The entire PSCM study entitled A comparison of nicotine dependence among exclusive E-cigarette and cigarette users in the PATH study is readily available via Preventative Medicine

Related Article:  Vaping improves myocardial health, but smoking just one cigarette has immediate negative effects

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