The article titled “Jury is out on e-cigarettes” appeared on The Scotsman last week, and referred to research from the University of Stirling indicating that 40% of young people who have tried e-cigarettes went on to smoke regular cigarettes. Professor Linda Bauld wrote on Pressreader in response to the article, saying that the study was misinterpreted by the newspaper. “This study doesn’t prove that trying vaping caused young people to smoke, and the authors of the research were careful to point that out in their article.”
Bauld explained that there are many factors to take into account when trying to understand why adolescents would try vaping or smoking. Also, aside this, the study did not determine how many of the interviewed teenagers who said they had tried smoking, actually went on to become fully fledged smokers.
Data dispelling the ‘Gateway Theory’
The infamous “Gateway Theory”, which states that vaping leads people to take on smoking, despite being dispelled my several studies, keeps reverberating. Figures obtained from such studies indicate that smoking rates all around the world keep declining, and research has shown that the advent of e-cigarettes has had a lot to do with this.
Bauld pointed out that the same pattern has been witnessed in Scotland. “When e-cigarettes began to become popular, around 2010, 13 per cent of 15 year-olds in Scotland were smokers. By 2015, this figure was now down to 7 per cent, and is just 2 per cent in 13-year olds. If e-cigarettes were causing tobacco use in young people, these trends would be reversed.” she said.
The potential of e-cigs as harm reduction tools
Bauld said that of course there is still a lot of research to be carried out about electronic cigarettes, however several studies have already indicated that they are significantly safer than their combustible counterparts, hence their role as safer alternatives for harm reduction, should not be cast aside. She added that the main problem here is that a large number of the public is still unaware of the relative benefits of the devices, and that this lack of knowledge keeps being perpetuated by unsound media stories.
“Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of cancer, and kills more people in Scotland than anything else we can prevent. We must do everything we can to help smokers to stop. That includes being clear about the evidence on e-cigarettes. To do otherwise may cost lives”, concluded Professor Linda Bauld.
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