Yet another study shows vaping is NOT a gateway to smoking

Another newly released vaping study is further disproving multiple claims made by public health officials that e-cig usage is a gateway to smoking, especially among teenagers and young adults.  The latest research published on April 1 was conducted by scientists from Cardiff University in Great Britain.  After tracking the social behaviors of nearly 250,000 young people between the ages of 13 to 15 years of age, the co-authors determined that occasional vaping has actually contributed greatly to the rapidly declining national smoking rates in the UK.   

The analysis was conducted over an extended period of 17-years between 1998 and 2015, making this analysis one of the most comprehensive teen vaping studies to date.   The findings further indicate that while e-cigarette use among youth has risen sharply in recent years, usage of combustible tobacco products among this same demographic has plummeted by an astonishing 73 percent overall.  For a country whose national goal is to be entirely smoke-free by 2024, this report is great news.

'Little evidence' that teen vaping leads to smoking

Additional findings show that students who had admitted to trying a tobacco cigarette at least once and who had reported the experience as being “okay” also declined substantially from 70% to 27% in recent years.  These statistics along with other related findings have led the study’s co-authors to conclude that there is “little evidence” of teen vaping being a gateway to future smoking as an adult.

“There was a marginal slowing in the decline in regular smoking during the period following 2010, when e-cigarettes were emerging but relatively unregulated. However, these patterns were not unique to tobacco use and the decline in the acceptability of smoking behaviour among youth accelerated during this time. These analyses provide little evidence that renormalisation of youth smoking was occurring during a period of rapid growth and limited regulation of e-cigarettes from 2011 to 2015.”

The study entitled Have e-cigarettes renormalised or displaced youth smoking is recently published on the as recently published in the BMJ Tobacco Control Journal (BMJ).  Led by Dr Britt Hallingberg, a researcher from the university’s School of Social Sciences, the co-authors also note that teen e-cig usage in the UK reportedly peaked around 2011 before stabilizing sometime in 2013.  And by 2015, experimentation with e-cigarettes was more common among young people than experimentation with smoking. 

“These studies show that by 2015, experimentation with e-cigarettes was more common than experimentation with tobacco. Notably, they also show that experimentation is not translating into widespread regular e-cigarette use to dat.  Nevertheless, a perception that e-cigarette proliferation may renormalise smoking through leading young people to view smoking as a socially acceptable behavior has been cited in policy documents in several countries as a rationale to support more restrictive policies”.

Related Article:  Georgetown University debunks FDA claims of vaping as a gateway to smoking

The researchers also specifically questioned America’s “more restrictive” approach to vaping.  They also take aim at the popular argument among many public health officials claiming that nicotine use among young people hampers brain development by suggesting that the foundation of these assertions is based on “animal models” that may not be particularly pertinent or relevant.   

“Some evidence from animal models suggests that nicotine use during adolescence can inhibit brain development. Because of this, use of e-cigarettes among young people has been described as a potential concern in its own right. While evidence to date suggests that regular use among non-smokers is rare, continued conflation with the normalisation of tobacco may be an unhelpful distraction from the need to consider whether youth e-cigarette use does become a potential problem in isolation from its links to tobacco.”

Another co-author of the report, Dr. Graham Moore, also stated that as vaping’s popularity was on the rise in Europe, the positive perceptions of smoking declined simultaneously and at a much faster rate.   As a result, new national smoking statistics indicate that the number of British teens who have experimented with smoking at least once has dropped dramatically to only a mere 9 percent.   

Related Article:  New study discredits CDC claims of vaping as gateway to teen smoking

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