When a spokesperson for the American Lung Association (ALA) recently stated that a “perception” exists that e-cigs are less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes, Dr. Michael Siegel immediately took offense. The Boston University Professor of Community Health Sciences is an avid supporter of vaping as a smoking cessation tool with 25 years of experience in the field of tobacco control.
In a recent interview on public radio, Dona Wininsky from the Wisconsin chapter of the ALA began discussing the results of a new statewide survey which indicates a substantial decrease in teen smoking over the past two years. However, she also claims that the state’s newly published 2016 Youth Tobacco Survey also suggests a slight increase in vaping among middle sand high school students over the same period.
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For example, the Wisconsin data shows a slight increase in e-cig experimentation among middle schoolers to 2.6 percent in 2016 from 1.1 percent in 2014. In her radio interview, Wininsky made the following statement.
"I think there’s still a perception that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes and so for some kids who never would have tried smoking cigarettes they get the idea this might be a safer alternative."
This statement seems to have incurred the wrath of the reputable Dr. Siegel. Wininsky’s implications that vaping is just as dangerous as smoking are simply not supported by current scientific evidence. As a result, Seigel took to his blog to blast the ALA for intentionally misleading Wisconsin youth.
“Clearly, the ALA is telling the public that kids are actually mistaken and that e-cigarettes are no less harmful than regular cigarettes. Of course, this also means that cigarettes are no more dangerous than e-cigarettes.”
Dr. Michael Seigel also discusses the volumes of pro-vaping research compiled by scientists like Dr. Stan Glantz who has stated on many occasions that vaping is significantly healthier than smoking. While Seigel wholeheartedly admits that vaping is not without its share of risks, he also states that the risks are substantially less compared to smoking. He also believes that Wininsky is not reading the results of her state’s own research properly.
Dr. Michael Siegel explains the real results of the 2016 survey
According to the 2016 Wisconsin survey, e-cigarette use among high schoolers has increased slightly by 5.4 percent over the past two years. Meanwhile, smoking rates have declined by about 2.6 percent. Therefore, this very research that Wininsky is citing definitively shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that vaping does NOT act as a gateway to teen smoking.
“According to the state's Youth Tobacco Survey, while e-cigarette use among high school students in Wisconsin continued to increase substantially from 7.9% in 2014 to 13.3% in 2016, smoking prevalence declined by 24%, from 10.7% to 8.1%. These data are not consistent with the assertion that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway to smoking among Wisconsin youth. In fact, they suggest the opposite.”
The statistics recently released by the Wisconsin ALA are further supported by national data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the same week. However, unlike the Wisconsin survey, the CDC data also indicates a significant decrease in both teen smoking and vaping nationwide. Does Wininsky truly believe that Wisconsin teens are simply not smart enough to avoid being lured into a life of smoking when the rest of the nation has already learned their lesson?
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