Are Teenagers Vaping?

Are Teenagers Vaping?

While e-cigs are praised for the success they have in helping smokers quit, some vocal groups worry about vaping’s ability to ensnare teens and lead them on to smoking tobacco products.

Electronic cigarettes have been roundly recognised as being a massive success in helping smokers to quit and driving down population smoking percentages at an unprecedented rate. Despite this, a combination of vocal campaigning groups continually expresses their fear that vaping e-cigarettes will result in teens being ensnared by addiction to nicotine and then lead them into a lifetime habit of smoking tobacco products.

Doctors Ruoyan Sun, David Mendez, and Kenneth Warner conducted research to find out what the actual risk of young people being led into smoking is. Their paper “Is Adolescent E-Cigarette Use Associated With Subsequent Smoking? A New Look” was recently published in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

What is the problem?

Given that the study was conducted in America, it is in the grip of a faux crisis about teen vaping.

Why is it not a real crisis?

  • Cigarette smoking among US adolescents has steadily decreased over the last quarter-century
  • High and middle school vaping rates have “dropped substantially” in both 2020 and 2021

Despite the numbers of teens smoking and vaping continuing to drop to historic lows, “one concern is that e-cigarette use may lead young people to try cigarettes when absent the experience of vaping, they would not have done so.”

Hang on, smoking rates are dropping but vaping causes smoking?

Yes, the weak argument being used by people opposed to vaping is that the actual number of teens stopping smoking is actually far larger, but their sterling efforts with patronising ‘Just say no’ style adverts are being undermined by evil e-cigs creating new tobacco users.

Is there evidence of that?

Sort of.

There’s real evidence of vaping leading to smoking?

Well, no. The problem here is that when the authors of this study write, “studies have found strong associations between youth and young adult vaping and subsequent cigarette smoking”, it ignores the quality of that evidence.

In truth, there is a funding problem in American Universities and (amazingly enough) if a billionaire with certain anti-vape opinions offers them a few million dollars to do some research, their results confirm his initial bias.

Then the rich person sends the results of his funded research to a load of campaigning organisations (that he also funds) and they shout about evil Big Vape hooking kids.

Sun, Mendez, and Warner’s research is going to be bad then?

Good guess, but wrong. It was an excellent study with a positive findings.

They identify that it isn’t the use of an electronic cigarette that predicts if a child is going to go on and become a smoker, it is down to a host of other factors including, “peer and familial influences, use of other psychoactive substances, such as other tobacco products, marijuana, and alcohol (indicative of risk-taking propensity), and indices of sensation seeking or rebelliousness.”

Overall, they concluded that a teen who had never smoked but tried vaping was at a “non-significant increase” in risk of taking up smoking. Good news again for #TeamVaping!