E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

New Research Suggests Vaping is Not a Gateway to Smoking for Youths

Despite what you may have read in the newspapers or on mainstream news websites, several studies and surveys show that vaping does not push teenagers to smoking. The latest evidence of that comes from the UK and New Zealand, where two separate studies have concluded that vaping is not a gateway to smoking for youths.

Scientists at Cardiff University in Ireland teamed up with academics from Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow and Bristol to analyze young people’s perception of tobacco smoking in the age of electronic cigarettes. They focused on three national surveys containing the views of 248,324 participants aged 13 to 15 from Wales, England and Scotland. They found that the percentage of teenagers who reported that it was ok to try a tobacco cigarette dropped from 70% in 1999 to 27% in 2015, with the rate dropping faster from 2011 – around the time e-cigarettes really became popular – onward. A decline in the number of respondents who reported having tried smoking was also observed.

Although there was a surge in electronic cigarette use between 2011 and 2015, the rate of vaping among youths remained low, and research conclude that concerns that e-cigarettes are leading to an increase in young people smoking tobacco have not materialised.

“These findings suggest that fears over a resurgence in youth tobacco smoking because of the rise in e-cigarette use are largely unfounded to date,” Dr Graham Moore, from the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, said. “Negative attitudes towards smoking among young people continued to increase during a period where we saw a rapid rise in the use of e-cigarettes.  The nature of e-cigarettes, and the landscape in which they are sold and used continue to change rapidly, and we need to continue to keep a close eye on how they affect young people. However, this study demonstrates the success of public health efforts in reducing smoking among young people in the last 20 years and provides no evidence that e-cigarettes are reversing this.”

And while experimentation with electronic cigarettes by youths who had not previously tried tobacco cigarettes has become more popular in recent years, regular use of e-cigarettes by young people remains rare and, most importantly, smoking rates continue to drop.

“Teenagers across Great Britain were trying e-cigarettes during the period when they were unregulated, and recent data suggests that these trends have continued up to the present day,” Professor Linda Bauld from the University of Edinburgh said. “But the findings of this study show that youth tobacco smoking has nevertheless continued to decline. Clearly longer term data is required to fully assess the effects of e-cigarette use in young people. The next stages of this study and other ongoing research will provide us with more information in the future.”

Last month, New Zealand also released its own study that shows extremely low rates of smoking and vaping among 14 and 15-year olds. According to a 2018 Year 10 Snapshot by Action for Smokefree 2025 (ASH), which surveyed around 29,000 Year 10 students on their smoking behaviours and attitudes, just 1.8% of students used e-cigarettes or vaped regularly, down from 1.9% in the previous year. Also, only 0.5% of students who reported never having tried smoking vaped every day, down from 0.8% in 2017. Daily smoking rates among Year 10 students has fallen to 1.9%, compared to 20 years ago, when 15.2% of youths reported smoking every day.

“Year 10 vaping in New Zealand remains low, and largely among students who smoke. There is still no evidence to suggest vaping is a gateway to cigarette smoking,” New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister, Jenny Salesa, commented on the results of the research.

Meanwhile, US media is pushing forward with articles on the “JUUL epidemic” and teens getting hooked on nicotine. Somehow, I just don’t see how US teens are that much different from those in the UK, New Zealand or other parts of the world. Yes, they like to experiment with forbidden things – they’ve been doing ot with alcohol since forever – but that doesn’t mean they use those things on a regular basis. I wish someone did a study like the ones presented above and report on how many US youths are regular JUUL users, and how many actually started smoking because of it. I think the results would be much different than what the media is trying to sell these days…

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