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New vaping study of U.S. soldiers finds e-cigs ‘more satisfying’ and ‘less dangerous’

Researchers from the University of Buffalo in New York have recently released the results of a new vaping study which focuses strictly on the habits of the U.S. military.  The key finding is that American soldiers find e-cigs and vaping technology at least as satisfying as smoking combustible cigarettes – in the majority of cases, even more so.

The scientists began by surveying some 105 service personnel from the U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard.  The study was eventually expanded to include 400 members of the military and their immediate family.

The researchers also make clear in the report’s introduction that while e-cigarettes are not without health risks, those risks are substantially lower than those associated with conventional smoking by as much as 90 percent.  With military vaping on the rise, the scientists attempt to discover the reasons behind this new trend.


The vaping study entitled Daily users compared to less frequent users find vape as or more satisfying and less dangerous than cigarettes, and are likelier to use non-cig-alike vaping products was led by Dr. Lynn T. Kozlowski, a professor of the university’s School of Public Health.  The results are published in the online journal Preventative Medicine Reports.

Dr. Kozlowski is no stranger to scientific research regarding vaping and e-cigs.  His team’s previous research papers include those that successfully refute consistent FDA claims that e-cigs are a gateway to smoking for adolescents.  And another paper evaluates the meaningful differences of inaccurate or intentionally misleading anti-vaping propaganda often published by government agencies.  This latest military vaping study was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health. 

The vaping habits of U.S. soldiers

Initially, the scientists focused on only daily smokers and daily vapers.  After a brief period, the research was expanded to include intermittent smokers and vapers, as well.  The guidelines of the study involve the evaluation of extensive and regularly scheduled questionnaires completed by some 105 adult soldiers with the below listed characteristics.

  • 53 males
  • 52 females
  • Ages 18.5 to 44.9 years of age
  • Average age is 30.2 years of age
  • 83 percent Non-Hispanic Caucasian
  • 8 percent Non-Hispanic Black
  • 6 percent Hispanic
  • 8 percent “other”
  • 64 percent had “some college”
  • 15 percent had a college degree
  • 18 percent held high school diplomas
  • 3 percent had “less education”


Participants were rated on a variety of criteria, most of which focus on the soldiers’ reasons for vaping and their related levels of enjoyment.  What the scientists discovered is that as vaping progresses through the various stages of “Triers,” “Not Daily Users,” and “Daily Users,” their levels of perceived danger diminish substantially.  Conversely, their levels of enjoyment and satisfaction rise sharply, as well.

“The results argue that satisfaction, perceived harm or danger and product type seem to all work together to promote use or avoidance. The mistaken belief that e-cigarettes are more harmful than cigarettes can influence some smokers to not use e-cigs. If the type of product they use is less satisfying, this also can influence likelihood of use.”

“Triers” were also found to prefer cig-a-like devices.  As they progress to the daily vaping stage after giving up smoking completely, vaping technology such as vape mods and pens become the preferred mode of choice.  In short, as vapers grow more accustomed to vaping in general, they admittedly prefer vaping over their old habit of smoking by far. 

No evidence of vaping as a gateway

The team of researchers also highlight their previous work regarding vaping as a gateway to smoking.  They call these types of assertions, often made by government agencies like the FDA and the CDC, “unconvincing.”

“Although there is some indication of causal gateway effects, the effects have been small with limited controls for confounding variables and overall evidence for a causal gateway effect that could have a major effect on public health is unconvincing. Evidence arising from secular trends in cigarette and e-cigarette use does not support that there is a gateway effect.

Dr. Kozlowski also rebukes those who try to exaggerate the dangers of vaping.

“Those who try to exaggerate fears of vaping products should consider their role in keeping smokers smoking. Telling people only that no product is 'safe' is an irresponsible message.”

Military vaping is on the rise, and this latest study published by scientists from the University of Buffalo is one of the first of its kind.  The majority of participants found that vaping is “much more satisfying” and less dangerous than smoking.

And while soldiers are not medical experts, the study does successfully pinpoint some of the primary reasons why our active-duty soldiers choose vaping over smoking.  If the FDA deeming regulations are not repealed immediately, then millions of military vapers will be placed further at risk.  The temptation to return to smoking may be too overwhelming.


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