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Regular E-Cigarette Among Britain’s Youth Remains Extremely Low, New Research Shows

In a time when US states and the Food and Drug Administration are preparing e-cigarette bans to deal with a “teen vaping epidemic”, scientific data from the UK shows that regular e-cigarette use among the country’s youths remains extremely low.

An independent report led by researchers at King’s College London and commissioned by Public Health England (PHE) has found that although experimentation with electronic cigarettes among youths has increased in recent years – 15.9 percent in 2018, compared to 8,1% in 2014 – regular use of these devices remains very  low. Only 1.7 percent of teens under the age of 18 vape once a week or more, and the vast majority of them also smoke tobacco cigarettes. Among young people who have never smoked, only 0.2% use e-cigarettes on a regular basis.

“While more young people are experimenting with e-cigarettes, the crucial point is that regular use remains low and is very low indeed among those who have never smoked,” Professor John Newton, Health Improvement Director at Public Health England, said. “We will keep a close watch on young people’s vaping and smoking habits to ensure we stay on track to achieve our ambition of a smoke-free generation.”

Professor Newman was also quoted as saying that despite recent media reports in the US, Britain was not seeing a surge in vaping among young people. But he had barely finished his statement when the Telegraph newspaper published an article on this report with the menacing title “Number of children vaping doubles in five years, research shows“. That’s right, a Public Health England official had just stated that regular e-cigarette use was low among youths, but the media still found a way to spin the facts in a negative way.

The PHE report clearly mentions that when those who had tried electronic cigarettes were asked why they did it, over half of them (57.2%) said they just wanted to try them, while 16.% answered that they liked the flavors. It’s pretty obvious that most of these teens were just experimenting, you know, like young people usually do. If the Telegraph’s headline held any truth to it, we’d have to call any youths who tried alcohol even once before they turned 18 alcoholics. It makes no sense!

“We are encouraged that regular vaping among young people in Britain who have never smoked remains low. However, we need to stay vigilant and in particular closely monitor youth smoking,” Professor Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London and the lead author of this study, said.

The report also concluded that e-cigarette use had plateaued among adults and recommended that Stop Smoking Services should do more to encourage smokers that want to quit with the help of electronic cigarettes.

“We could accelerate the decline in smoking if more smokers switched completely to vaping. Recent new evidence clearly shows using an e-cigarette with Stop Smoking Service support can double your chances of quitting,” Professor Newman said. “But with e-cigarettes currently used so rarely in services, it’s time for change. Every Stop Smoking Service must start talking much more about the potential of vaping to help smokers quit. If you smoke, switching to vaping could save you years of ill health, and even your life.”

Meanwhile, in the US, the FDA just put out some horrifying ads targeted at teens to convince them of the danger electronic cigarettes pose. I know the US and the UK are two different countries, but somehow I have a hard time believing that youths in these countries are that much different. And considering that UK authorities are actually supporting vaping as a less dangerous alternative to smoking, while the US is treating it like smoking 2.0, it’s the European country that should be dealing with a vaping epidemic, not the other way around.

But it all depends on how you look at things. While UK experts acknowledge that teens experimenting with e-cigarettes are not vapers, and choose to focus on regular use, things in the US are much different. In their reports, organisations like the CDC and the FDA treat ever-use of e-cigarettes the same way as regular use. And of course, the media plays a big part in this mass misinformation.

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