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PATH survey shows vaping is less addictive than tobacco cigarettes

Vaping haters love to claim that e-cigs are just as deadly and addictive as tobacco cigarettes, but a survey published last April indicates otherwise.  A team of scientists from the Penn State University College of Medicine issued the first results long-anticipated research data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study.

The paper is attracting a great deal of attention from both lawmakers and public health experts due to its incredibly detailed scientific methodologies and the included 32,320 observations.  The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Tobacco Products and includes a broad range of individual participants. 

  • A total of 32,320 participants were surveyed.
  • 3,586 participants were chosen for the initial Wave 1 PATH database.
  • 6 percent self-identified as only-vapers.
  • 4 percent self-identified as only-smokers
  • 93 percent of the only-vapers were also former smokers.
  • The remaining 7 percent self-identified as experimental smokers or social smokers.

What the scientists discovered through the survey is that vapers tend to wait a bit longer in the morning before taking that very first hit of the vape mod – compared to when they were smoking.  The vape-only group also claimed to be better able to avoid vaping in restricted areas, and they also agreed that their related cravings to vape were comparatively less severe overall than when they were smokers. 

The PATH study is officially entitled A comparison of nicotine dependence among exclusive E-cigarette and cigarette users in the PATH study and is available for review via the Science Direct online journal.  In a press release published on the Penn State website, co-author and Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences Guodong Liu made the following statement.

 “No doubt about it, e-cigarettes are addictive, but not at the same level as traditional cigarettes.”

However, this is only a survey and the first of many associated follow-up studies still to come.  According to the report, approximately 80 percent of the participants also provided blood and urine samples at various times throughout the study.  The research team plans to evaluate these biomarker samples to determine if their levels of nicotine match up to their claims of decreased addiction levels. 

More PATH vaping studies in the works

The scientists also want to conduct other follow-up studies with a dedicated focus on dual usage of vaping and smoking.  Dual usage is not often a consideration of other, less reputable vaping studies that are often citing by anti-vaping lobbyists.  According to Lui, she suspects that “most e-cigarette users are either experimental users or dual users of e-cigarettes and at least one type of traditional tobacco product, like cigarettes."   The PATH team wants to determine if the cravings and addiction levels of dual users differ from those of only-vapers or only-smokers, as well.


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