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E-Cigarettes NOT a Gateway to Smoking for Teens, French Survey Shows

According to a new survey conducted on a representative sample of over 3,000 French students, electronic cigarettes do spark teen curiosity, but they are not a gateway to smoking.

teen-vapingOn the eve of World No Tobacco Day, French association Paris Sans Tabac (Tobacco-Free Paris) partnered with the Paris Academy to shed some light on controversial issues, like whether e-cigarettes act as a gateway to smoking for youths. To find some much needed answers, they conducted a survey on a sample of 3,350 Paris students, aged 12 to 19, and have already published some preliminary results.

Experimentation with electronic cigarettes among teenagers has increased drastically during the last three years, before stabilizing in 2015, the survey concluded. It found that 10% of 12-year-olds have apparently already tried electronic cigarettes at least once, while at age 16 the percentage goes up to 50%. Those are not encouraging figures for e-cigarette advocates, however, the survey also found that a whopping 72% of teens who experimented with e-cigs, do not use them regularly.

In fact, the number of regular electronic cigarette users has dropped in the last year, from 14% to 11% among youths aged 16 – 19, and from 9.8% to 6% among 12 – 15- year-olds. After analyzing survey data, researchers concluded that “although experimentation with electronic cigarettes has become a social norm, less than 10% of Paris students vape regularly”.

Furthermore, researchers reported a significant decline in occasional and regular smoking rates among all age categories. Less than 8% of youths aged 12 – 15 smoke in 2015, compared to 20% in 2011, and 33.3% of 16 – 19-year-olds, compared to 42.9% in 2011. If e-cigarettes were indeed to lead teens towards smoking, as many e-cig opponents claim, shouldn’t these rates be going up?

“Clearly, electronic cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking for teens, but a substitute for tobacco cigarettes,” said Prof. Bertrand Dautzenberg, famed pulmonologist and president of Tobacco-Free Paris, adding that he considers e-cigs the “lesser evil”.

Although smoking seems to be less popular than ever in Paris schools, Prof. Dautzenberg made it clear that the war against tobacco is not yet won, and there is still much to do. “It is up to policy makers to continue the fight against certain industrial and commercial practices that work in the direction of teenage tobacco dependence,” he said.

Source: Paris Sans Tabac Survey

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