Scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have released the results of an extensive e-cig study which contradicts previous claims that vaping is a gateway to smoking. Since the very first American settlers established the colony of Jamestown in 1607, tobacco has been a primary crop of the beautiful state of Virginia. Virginia is also one of the very few states in the Union that has virtually no anti-vaping laws on the books, and the seaside town of Virginia Beach is often rated the vape-friendliest city in the United States.
For these reasons, Virginia might be the perfect location to conduct a completely unbiased account of vaping vs. smoking. Simply put, Virginians love their tobacco but they are also very supportive of the vaping community at the same time.
Overview of the VCU e-cig study
The team of scientists began by soliciting some 3,757 college freshman volunteers. For an entire school year, they followed these participants to track their engagement with both smoking and vaping products. Over the course of the study, the scientists discovered that students who were already actively vaping on a regular basis at the onset of the study were only 3.4 times more prone to experiment with smoking cigarettes at some point in the future.
The study published by Virginia Commonwealth University can be located online. The leader of the e-cig study is listed as Tory Spindle, a graduate student in the VCU Health Program. The faculty advisor is listed as Dr. Thomas Eissenberg, Professor of Health Psychology.
- Of the 3,757 students, only six would eventually switch from vaping to smoking over the course of the study.
- Meanwhile, another twenty students who were already active smokers at the onset of the study successfully transitioned to vaping within the course of the study.
- A whopping 45 students who were dual users of tobacco products and vaping technology at the onset of the study eventually quit smoking altogether.
- The 3,757-member control group consisted of diverse sampling of college students
- 34% men
- 66% women
- 45% Caucasian
- 21% Black
- 19% Asian
- 6% Hispanic.
The trouble with scientific research like that from VCU is that anti-vaping activists often try to spin the results to support their outlandish claims. For example, Dr. Stanton Glantz from the University of California zeroed in on the VCU study’s assertion that vaping led to a 3.4 increase in experimentation with cigarettes. However, he failed to highlight the most significant scientific conclusion in the entire report.
"CURRENT E-CIGARETTE USERS AT BASELINE WERE NO MORE LIKELY TO PROGRESS TO CURRENT SMOKING THAN YOUNG ADULTS WHO WERE NOT USING E-CIGARETTES."
Yes, college students tend to push their boundaries and at least try a tobacco cigarette at some point in their young lives. And statistics generally show that if smokers get hooked at an early age, then they tend to remain active smokers for decades.
But thanks to the VCU e-cig study, we now know that college freshmen are much smarter than we sometimes give them credit for being. While they may try a vape pen out of curiosity – and they may try a tobacco cigarette as a method of comparison – the research shows that given the choice, vaping is not a gateway to teen smoking. In fact, it is somewhat of a roadblock.