The longitudinal study consisted of 2839 at baseline, 1276 at six months and 1025 at twelve months. “The analyses involved (1) associations of baseline e-cigarette use and subsequent tobacco smoking among never smokers; (2) associations of e-cigarette use frequency at baseline and tobacco smoking frequency at follow-up; and (3) the association of baseline tobacco smoking and subsequent e-cigarette use among non-users of e-cigarettes,” reported the researchers.
From the gathered data, the researchers concluded the relationship between vaping and smoking was bi-directional. “More frequent use of e-cigarettes at baseline was associated with more frequent smoking at follow-ups. Baseline tobacco smoking was associated with subsequent e-cigarette use.”
The link between vaping and smoking explained
Meanwhile, several other studies looking into this relationship have identified an explanation for this relationship. A recent study of high school seniors in the U.S., had indicated that teens who crave excitement and are inclined to experiment, are more likely to use multiple illicit substances, including tobacco and/or vaping products.
Moreover, a research team from the University of Michigan analyzing nationwide data on tobacco product use among 8th, 10th and 12th-graders, from 1991 to 2019, concluded that the “Gateway Theory” holds no ground. The compiled data indicated that daily smoking rates among 12th-grade boys rose by 4.9% a year between 1991 and 1998, but fell by 8% a year between 1998 and 2006, and by 1.6% from 2006 to 2012.
Moreover there was a 17% annual decline in smoking between 2012 and 2019. This positive pattern was consistent amongst boys and girls in all grades and for both black and white teens, corresponding to an increase in vaping rates amongst the same age groups.
Study author Rafael Meza emphasized that given these data, there is no indication of a gateway effect. “So I think the good news is that the rapid increase in e-cigarette use has not yet resulted in a reversal of the decreasing trends of cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use, and if anything, those trends have accelerated.”