E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Study Analysis Suggests Vaping Helps Youths Quit Smoking Tobacco

New research published by scientist at NYU School of Global Public Health shows that the majority of middle and high school students do not vape, and those that do are current or former smokers.

2019 has not been a great year for vaping; in fact, one could strongly argue that it has been the worst year since the inception of vaping and electronic cigarettes. Apart from the now common opposition and misinformation from anti-smoking organizations, most mainstream media organizations and even some biased researchers, we also had the disastrous EVALI lung disease (caused by vaping THC cartridges, but associated with general e-cigarette use), and then the ongoing flavor ban. Things don’t appear to be getting better, but at least we still have some researchers to shed some light on the relationship between youths and vaping.

A team of researchers from NYU School of Global Public Health recently analyzed the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, in which more than 20,000 middle and high school students were asked about their use of tobacco and vaping products in the previous 30 days, and reached some interesting conclusions.

Most of the time, when talking about the National Youth Tobacco Survey, both the CDC and the FDA mention the increase in youth vaping in recent years, but they rarely talk about the frequency of use or the profile of the users (if they previously smoked tobacco, for example). Luckily the NYU School of Global Public Health researchers did just that and found why no one ever talks about these aforementioned aspects.

One of the most important findings of the analysis was that smoking among youths decreased much more rapidly in the same period that vaping became more popular. For example, between 2015 to 2018, daily cigarette smoking among youth declined from 1.2 percent to 0.9 percent, while regular vaping – defined as vaping in 20 or more days out of the past 30 days – increased from 1.7 percent to 3.6 percent.

“The faster drop in smoking suggests vaping is helping displace youth use of much more deadly smoking—a net harm reduction benefit to the population as a whole,” David Abrams, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at NYU School of Global Public Health, said.

Researchers also found that while vaping among youths technically increased from 2017 to 2018, this increase was largely driven by infrequent e-cigarette use – vaping in 5 or less of the last 30 days. While 13.8 percent of the students questioned had vaped in the last 30 days, more than half of them reported infrequent use, which was hardly ever mentioned by the CDC.

Organizations like the FDA and the CDC, as well as anti-smoking and youth health organizations often claim that vaping pushes young people to smoking, the so-called “gateway theory” that has already been debunked several times. This latest analysis also found that the vast majority of youth vapers (60 to 88.9 percent, depending on the frequency of vaping) also reported current or previous use of cigarettes or other more dangerous tobacco products. Only a very small number of youths who had never experienced with tobacco products reported having even tried vaping.

“Examining tobacco and e-cigarette use patterns in youth is informative about the risk of continued use in adulthood. While in a perfect world young people would not be smoking or vaping, if the vast majority of youth who vape are already current or former smokers, vaping could offer them a safer alternative than cancer-causing cigarettes,” said Ray Niaura, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at NYU School of Global Public Health.

So, to summarize, the NYU School of Global Public Health analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey found that 80 percent of youths do not use any tobacco and over 86 percent don’t vape. Of the minority who did report having vaped in the previous 30 days, most were classified as infrequent users (having vaped in five or less of the past 30 days). Also, most of the youths who had vaped were also current or former smokers.

“Our findings underscore the importance of examining the full context of how youth are using vaping and tobacco products,” Allison Glasser, an assistant research scientist at NYU School of Global Public Health and the study’s lead author, said. “The key to protecting youth in the United States is determining the patterns of frequency of use and co-use of vaping and tobacco products, which will give public health decision makers the best possible information to protect the public’s health.”

Sadly, the media is less interested in painting a clear picture of the relationship between vaping and youths. They appear more content to push the narrative that e-cigarette use is associated with serious health problems, including the dreaded EVALI lung disease, claims that have no scientific basis.

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