New UK e-cig study shows 53% of vaping teens are never-smokers

A recently published study by a team of UK scientists from Coventry University indicates that over half of British teens who vape have never once tried smoking a combustible cigarette.  The researchers began by surveying nearly 500 teenagers between the ages of 11 and 16 across the Warwickshire and surrounding areas.  Of the control group comprised of both male and female students, the researchers discovered that 53% have at least experimented with vaping in the past without ever having even touched a tobacco cigarette.

Anti-tobacco groups will likely use the results of the Coventry University study to push their political agenda based on the premise that vaping is only making things easier for teens to become addicted to nicotine.  The study’s statistics simultaneously debunk another previously floated conspiracy theory that vaping is a gateway to teen smoking.  In fact, there are multiple reasons why the Coventry University study should be welcome news for public health agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which is currently considering a nationwide ban on the sales of flavored e-liquids.

Vaping is safer than smoking

According to the London-based publication The Daily Mail, one of the main reasons that UK teens are choosing to experiment with vaping rather than smoking is because they have learned through British media that e-cigs are significantly safer than combustible tobacco.  Just days after the FDA of the United States announced new, harsher deeming regulations for the vaping industry in 2015, the equivalent UK agency Public Health England published documented research indicating that electronic cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than smoking.   

Related Article: Did the CDC just confirm that vaping is NOT a gateway to teen smoking?

However, even in the more vaping-friendly Great Britain, public health officials seem to be very concerned with the perceived rise in teen vaping – experimental or otherwise. 

“…experimental use in adolescence is a growing international concern and the proportion of adolescent e-cig users who have never used tobacco is rising.
“Young people who deem them as a 'safe' option and may otherwise have never experimented with tobacco could be at risk of later tobacco use.” 

While UK scientists recommend vaping as a smoking cessation aid for adults, they do not endorse the use of e-cigs for mere recreational purposes – by teenagers or anyone else.  Even though the Coventry research seemingly refutes previous assumptions that vaping is a gateway to smoking, government officials are treading lightly before implementing additional regulations on the British vaping industry.

The cold hard truth is that a certain percentage of teenagers from every generation has always experimented with smoking.  And while this percentage has been on a steady decline since the 1980s, teen smoking rates have been plummeting at astonishing rates in recent years just as the popularity of vaping has been witnessing a slight uptick.  While teen vaping should never be encouraged, the teenage community should also be commended for their “adult” decision making regarding the possible health dangers of vaping versus smoking.  

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

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