MacKinnon referred to the fact that the FDA intends to launch a campaign to deter adolescents from using electronic cigarettes. “We are still concerned that while e-cigarettes look as if they have a role in harm reduction, vaping can still lead to physiological addiction to nicotine and psychological addiction to vaping,” he said.
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However, in line with what many other public health experts have been saying, Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at Public Health England (PHE), pointed out that data obtained from several studies indicates that the theory which claims that vaping acts as a gateway to smoking is unsound.
“We monitor closely the UK data on young people’s use of e-cigarettes, alongside the data on smoking. It is fairly common for young people to experiment with e-cigarettes, but regular use is rare and [occurs] almost entirely among current and ex-smokers,” said Dockrell.
Data indicates that both smoking and vaping are on the decline
In line with this data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June, clearly indicates that smoking rates amongst high school students in the US were cut in half in only five years, between 2011 to 2016, during the time when vaping amongst the same age group increased from 1.5% to a peak of 16.0% in 2015.
Most importantly, the percentage of high school students using e-cigarettes has also dropped. For the first time since the advent of electronic cigarettes, vaping decreased from 16.0% in 2015 to 11.3% in 2016, while smoking in that same period dropped from 9.3% to 8.0%.
Smoking tends to precede vaping, not the otherway round
Action on Smoking and Health policy director Hazel Cheeseman is also not concerned about vaping amongst youths, “For the UK, the evidence that we have is very clear that we do not have a large number of young people regularly using e-cigarettes. I would not see this as a priority in the UK.”
She added that while theoretically the ‘rewiring’ of adolescent brains when using nicotine is something that could occur and should be looked into, she believes that most people who proceed to vape would have tried smoking first. “The need just does not seem to be there in the UK. The evidence we have to date shows that e-cigarettes are very much less harmful than smoking and there is growing evidence they are helpful in getting people to quit smoking,” she concluded.
More info : The Pharmaceutical Journal