New Canadian research confirms teen vaping does not lead to adult smoking

When the former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Dr. Scott Gottlieb began warning of a so-called teen vaping “epidemic” back in 2017, e-cig advocacy groups around the world were immediately outraged.  The United Kingdom’s premier public health agency – Public Health England (PHE) – had just released months prior scientific research indicating that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.  PHE has since re-confirmed this information for six years in a row. 

Around the same time as Gottlieb’s pontifications, a group of Canadian scientists published a research study which seemingly suggested that teen vaping is a gateway to conventional smoking as an adult.  On July 10, 2020, those same scientists admit that they were wrong in their initial calculations.  They also amended the old report entitled  “Prevalence of vaping and smoking among adolescents in Canada, England, and the United States: repeat national cross sectional surveys” published in The BMJ.

“In the original paper in The BMJ, changes in past 30 day smoking prevalence between 2017 and 2018 in Canada were reported as 10.7% to 15.5% (a statistically significant increase), which was revised after reweighting to 10.7% to 10.0% (no significant change).”

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With this correction, the researchers are confirming that youth smoking rates in Canada, England, and the United States have been on a steady decline since Gottlieb’s initial rantings of a supposed vaping epidemic.  Darryl Tempest, Executive Director of the Canadian Vaping Association (CVA), praised the researchers for making the correction in a July 21 press release.  

“The CVA has always been a proponent of protecting youth from nicotine addiction. We are pleased to see that inaccurate information is being corrected, as the erroneous statistics previously reported in this study were being used to justify legislation against the most successful harm reduction product on the market.”

2016 British vaping research confirms Canadians’ findings

A similar study published by the Brits in June 2016 also confirms the updated Canadian findings from last week.  In the paper entitled E-cigarettes: Gateway or roadblock to cigarette smoking, scientists from the UK Centre For Substance Use Research conducted surveys and market research targeting 16 to 25-year-olds in Great Britain and Scotland. 

Participants were questioned on everything from daily vaping habits, frequency of use of vapor and tobacco products, and several societal factors involving usage of either.  In the paper published in Science Direct, the co-authors issue the following statement.

"There was very little indication amongst the young people interviewed that e-cigarettes were resulting in an increased likelihood of young people smoking…In fact the majority we interviewed, including those who were vaping, perceived smoking in very negative terms and saw vaping as being entirely different to smoking."

Here in the United States, the fearmongering around an alleged teen vaping epidemic has died down to a large extent in recent months.  This decrease can be attributed to several factors.  Firstly, Dr. Gottlieb is no longer head of the FDA.  He quit last year to work for Big Pharma’s Pfizer. 

Related Article:  New UK study views vaping is a ‘roadblock’ to teen smoking

Secondly, the reporting of a mysterious “vaping related” lung disorder (EVALI) by the mainstream media in the fall of 2019 did far more damage to the public reputation of vaping than Gottieb’s incendiary comments ever could.  While the cause of the rare disorder would eventually be determined (months after the outbreak) to be THC-enhanced cartridges illegally infused with vitamin E acetate and purchased on the black market, news of this dramatic discovery rarely made in back into the mainstream press. 

Unfortunately, this miscalculation has resulted in a significant percentage of the general population still under the false impression that nicotine-based vapes can cause EVALI and may even be as dangerous to one’s health as smoking.  This theory is, of course, completely disproven. 

Related Article:  Call to action: Congress set to vote on bill to ban vapes-by-mail

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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