E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Study Suggests Using Advanced Vape Mods Makes People Smoke More

A new study published in the online journal Pediatrics analyzed the smoking patterns of American youth over a period of one year and determined that vape mods make young people smoke more…

The study, entitled “E-Cigarette Product Characteristics and Subsequent Frequency of Cigarette Smoking“, examined data from 1,312 participants in the Southern California Children’s Health Study in 2015-2016, with an average age of 18-years-old. To conduct their analysis, researchers looked at several key points – the kind of device that participants that had reported “ever vaping” used, whether they vaped nicotine-containing e-liquid, and if they dripped (directly dripping e-liquid onto the device).

Participants who reported never having used e-cigarettes were classified as ‘never users,’ those who reported ever using e-cigarettes but no use in the past 30 days were considered ‘previous users,’ and those who reported using e-cigs at least once in the past 30 days were considered ‘past-30-day users.’ This categorization is important, as it clarifies that the study makes no clear distinction between occasional users and regular users.

Similarly, participants who reported never smoking a cigarette were classified as ‘never smokers’, those who admitted having smoked in the past but not in the last 30 days were classified as ‘previous smokers’ and those who reported having smoked at least one cigarette in the last 30 days were classified as ‘past-30-day’ users. Those in the last category were also asked how many cigarettes they smoked, at each follow up.

Researchers looked at the pattern of e-cigarette use and smoking over the course of twelve months, from 2015 to 2016, and focused primarily on the kind of devices participants used (modifiable e-cigarettes or ‘mods’, pen-style electronic cigarettes, and cigalikes, the latter of which can today be considered archaic).

After analyzing the data by applying several models, the scientists determined that mod users were likely to smoke considerably more tobacco cigarettes than users of pen-style e-cigarettes or cigalikes.

The study found that participants using a pen-like e-cigarette device smoked 2.83 times as many cigarettes as those who had never used e-cigarettes, and participants using a vape mod smoked 8.38 times as many cigarettes. That’s an insane difference, to be honest. Mod users basically smoked 6 times as many cigarettes as users of pen-style vaporizers.

“Relative to never e-cigarette users, past-30-day e-cigarette use was associated with greater frequency of past-30-day cigarette smoking at follow-up. Among baseline past-30-day e-cigarette users, participants who used mods (versus vape pens) smoked over 6 times as many cigarettes at follow-up,” the study reads.

To be honest, I found the premise of the study – comparing vaping and smoking habits by device – interesting, but I personally don’t think this particular research is even worth considering. I got that idea early on, after reading the following statement by its authors: “Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has been associated with cigarette initiation and greater frequency of smoking among adolescents. It is not yet known whether there are certain product characteristics of e-cigarettes that may increase the frequency of cigarette smoking at follow-up.”

So the study already assumes that e-cigarettes lead youths to smoking tobacco – the frequently debunked “gateway theory” – so its authors just set out to show how different vaping devices affect how many cigarettes the users go on to smoke. The few studies that suggested this was the case have been heavily contested, as was the methodology used to reach that conclusion. But then again, this study makes the same mistakes.

To determine current (past 30 days) vaping and smoking habits, the authors used “ever use” (having vaped/smoked at least once in the past month) as the only criteria. That means even a regular smoker who gave vaping a try once in the last 30 days and then never vaped again was classified as a current vaper. That makes no sense. People, youth especially, experiment all the time, that doesn’t mean they do the things they try every day, that’s why it’s called experimenting.

Then there is the causality issue. The authors themselves admit that their analysis doesn’t show causality. Despite their claim that e-cigarettes push youths to smoking, this study shows no such thing. For those users who both vaped and smoked, there was no question about which came first, so the authors assumed that it was vaping that pushed participants to smoking, with mod users going through many more cigarettes than those who used other vaporizers.

Finally, it makes no sense that mod users smoke over 6 times as many cigarettes as other vapers. The study mentions that mods are powerful devices that vaporize more nicotine, faster, which should, in theory, satisfy users’ nicotine cravings more efficiently, not make them smoke more cigarettes…

Personally, I expect researchers like Prof. Michael Siegel and Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, public health experts with a deep knowledge of vaping, to dismantle this study. For regular vapers, the results make no sense, especially since just last year it was pod systems like JUUL that were blamed for getting teens addicted to nicotine. Now it’s mods? Which one is it?

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