US vapers give A Billion Lives a warm welcome
On Saturday night around 1,400 vapers crowded into Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater to see the North American premiere of Aaron Biebert’s documentary A Billion Lives. Following successful showings in New Zealand and Poland, the film is now being released in the USA – and, timed as it is to coincide with the FDA’s new restrictions coming into effect, it’s generating a lot of enthusiasm among consumers and industry.
As well as a broad range of advocates and hundreds of ordinary vapers, guests at the showing included United States Senator Ron Johnson. Senator Johnson has been one of the most determined critics of the FDA’s assault on vapers, and his attendance at the premiere shows why – he makes an effort to hear what ordinary people think, while most politicians only seem to listen to pressure groups.
With A Billion Lives now appearing in more US cinemas it’s likely that much more attention will now be focused on the role of health groups in persecuting vapers. The documentary has the potential to change public attitudes about vaping, and that might be the last and best hope to rescue American vapers from the FDA’s prohibitionist agenda.[Editor’s note: Two other movies are currently being presented in France. Vape Wave directed by french film maker Yan Kounen and Beyond the Cloud, co-presented by the Vaping Post:]
New youth vaping study misses the point
Recent research by Yale School of Medicine has looked at why teenagers vape – and it seems to have done a spectacular job of reaching the wrong conclusions. The authors asked around 2,100 high school students if they had ever used electronic cigarettes, and found that 340 had. Unusually for US researchers they also looked at how many continued to use them after an initial trial, as well as asking what had prompted them to try in the first place.
Unsurprisingly the most common reason for teens to try an e-cigarette, mentioned by over half the sample, was curiosity. Teens like to try new things, and curiosity is to be expected. Other common reasons for trying them included attractive flavours and the fact friends used them. However, these are all reasons for trying an e-cigarette. When it came to teens who actually use them regularly a very different picture emerged.
The teens most likely to be regular vapers were those who want to quit smoking; only 6% of the sample gave that as a reason for trying an e-cigarette, but of that 6% around four in five were still vaping several months later. Although sloppy research means it’s hard to tell how many US teens are regular vapers, these numbers suggest that around 0.8% of all US teens are vaping because they want to quit smoking – and research from similar countries suggests that’s about the percentage of teens who regularly vape.
Strangely the Yale team seem to have missed this. Instead they focus on the low cost of vaping compared to cigarettes, but don’t make the obvious connection – if teens are vaping because it’s cheaper than smoking, that means if vaping was more expensive they would smoke. The authors don’t appear concerned about smoking cessation, though. In their conclusions they suggest identifying the teens who’re most likely to continue vaping, then intervening to stop them. Those teens are the ones who’re trying to quit smoking, and it seems these researchers don’t want them to.
Smoking in Europe plummets as vaping grows
Meanwhile some slightly more useful research from Europe suggests that the impact of electronic cigarettes on smoking rates may be even bigger than previously suspected. A new study by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, published in the journal Addiction, surveyed more than 25,000 people throughout the EU and found some startling numbers.
Based on the survey responses, around 48.5 million people in the EU have tried e-cigarettes at least once, but regular use is confined to current or former smokers. Only 0.09% of never-smokers vape daily; this is even lower than found in previous studies, and is probably more accurate due to the large sample size.
Most impressively, however, Farsalinos found that if the sample is representative (which it probably is; the data was collected through the Eurobarometer survey system) then 32.1% of current e-cigarette users have reduced how much they smoke and an incredible 35.1% have quit entirely. By comparison, licensed NRT has a success rate of roughly 5%. Overall, Farsalinos concluded, roughly 6.1 million European smokers have used e-cigarettes to quit – with no cost to the taxpayer.