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Study Debunks Theory That E-Cigarettes Make Smoking Socially Acceptable

A new study conducted by the Centre for Substance Use and Research, in Glasgow, Scotland, has found that young young non-smokers are clearly able to differentiate between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and have no desire to start smoking after seeing e-cigs being used in public.

smok-brit-one-mega-in-handEver since electronic cigarettes became a popular alternative to smoking tobacco, opponents of vaping have been trying to push the argument that instead of helping people quit, these innovative devices only renormalize smoking and make it seem more attractive to people who wouldn’t otherwise be attracted to cigarettes. The only problem is that apart from misinformation and scaremongering news stories, they have no real evidence to back up this claim.

Now, scientists at Galsgow’s Centre for Substance Use and Research are also contesting this unfounded theory with the results of a scientific study. After interviewing 100 non-smokers aged between 16 and 29, they found that the vast majority (96%) were able to differentiate between smoking traditional cigarettes and e-cigarette use, with most expressing disinterest in vaping.

Furthermore, there was no reported change in the respondents’ desire to smoke after seeing vaping devices used in public, with some even suggesting that e-cigarettes make tobacco cigarettes appear even less appealing.

38% of respondents said that seeing others use e-cigarettes in public did not make them curious about vaping at all. While 61% of them admitted that the sight of an e-cigarette made them wonder what the experience of using one was like, only a third of them admitted to having tried vaping after first seeing e-cigs used in public. However, none of them went on to use e-cigarettes more frequently after that.

“These results cast doubt on claims of a link between the increased popularity of e-cigarettes, their ensuing visibility when used in public, and any resulting increase in the desire to smoke tobacco among young people,” said Dr. Neil McKeganey, director of CSUR and lead author of the study.

“While the study suggests more people now consider vaping to be a ‘normal’ activity, it also shows that there is no basis for regulating e-cigarettes based on a fear they are making smoking more attractive, because this fear is clearly unfounded,” Dr McKeganey added. “Any restrictions on their use, for example in public places, should reflect the reality that people do not think smoking is any more socially acceptable just because more people are seen to be vaping.”

“If anything, the results of this study show the opposite is true. Vaping is making smoking less interesting for non-smokers. While there is still a need to pursue further research into e-cigarettes, on the basis of our results the devices in their current form can be clearly distinguished from traditional cigarettes,” the study authors concluded.

The CSUR study is available in the US peer-reviewed International Archives of Addiction Research and Medicine.

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