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These last weeks witnessed a number of alarming media headlines on how teen vaping is apparently out of control. Public Health expert and anti-smoking activist Clive Bates also discussed this on his blog page, referring to the numerous alarmist headlines amongst which one by the The New York Times ‘I can’t stop’: schools struggling with vaping explosion, and another by CNN, Vaping now an epidemic among US high-schoolers.

“This effort is obviously prompted by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, which has its fingerprints all over it (e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here) as part of its campaign to wipe out the vaping industry by forcing FDA to bring forward extremely burdensome and restrictive regulation that will leave only a few products from tobacco companies on the market, if that.” added Bates.

Regular e-cig use is rare amongst non-smoking youth

“Frequent smokers were 84 times more likely than never smokers to vape daily (16.9% v 0.2%)”.
Infact, a study titled Frequency of Use and Smoking Status of U.S. Adolescent E-Cigarette Users in 2015 indicated that “E-cigarette use is more prevalent among ever and past 30-day smoking adolescents compared with never smoking adolescents. Frequent e-cigarette use is rare among never smoking adolescents.”

The research which was conducted by harm reduction and anti-smoking researchers amongst whom renowned Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, and Dr. Riccardo Polosa, analyzed the results of The National Youth Tobacco Survey 2015, focusing on frequency of past 30-day e-cigarette use according to smoking status of the participants.

“Infrequent smokers were 9 times more likely than never smokers to vape in past 30 days (50.4% v 5.5%).”
The Smoking status of the study subjects was classified as never smoker, ever/not a past 30-day smoker and past 30-day smoker, while infrequent and frequent smoking and e-cigarette use was defined as use for <20 and ≥20 of the past 30 days, respectively.

Founder of SmokeFree Pennsylvania, Bill Godshall summarized the collected data as follows:

  • “frequent smokers were 84 times more likely than never smokers to vape daily (16.9% v 0.2%)
  • infrequent smokers were 36 times more likely than never smokers to vape daily (7.3% v 0.2%)
  • frequent smokers were 73 times more likely than never smokers to vape frequently (21.8% v 0.3%)
  • infrequent smokers were 41 times more likely than never smokers to vape frequently (12.2% vs 0.3%)
  • frequent smokers were 12 times more likely than never smokers to vape in past 30 days (64.7% v 5.5%)
  • infrequent smokers were 9 times more likely than never smokers to vape in past 30 days (50.4% v 5.5%)”

With the advent of e-cigs, smoking rates have dropped significantly

Inline with this study, data collected via survey and published last December by The Institute for Social Research, clearly indicated that smoking rates by high school seniors have dropped by 73% since 1997. Of course this is partly attributed to the rise in popularity of e-cigarettes, and since these products are proven to be significantly safer than regular cigarettes, this should be considered a victory, not a threat, for public health.

This newly released survey data is also significant because it confirms what many public health experts have been pointing out. Warnings saying that vaping will make smoking popular again and that e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to smoking, are unfounded, as in fact cigarette consumption by teenagers has reached “historic lows”, and while teenagers may experiment with e-cigs just like they do with other substances, regular users tend to be replacing smoking.

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