Concerns about teen vaping and potential benefits for adult smoking cessation must be balanced.
Titled, “Trends in Nicotine Product Use Among US Adolescents, 1999-2020,” this cross-sectional study included 16 years of survey data for approximately 36 000 students in grades 6 through 12 per year. The aim was to analyse how nicotine product use, including frequency of use, and associated trends have changed from 1999.

The research team found that prior to the introduction of vaping products, the use of nicotine products was declining. This decrease then slowed down and reversed when vapes emerged on the market. However, highlighted the researchers, when adjusting for differential long-term risks of nicotine products, health risks levels may have decreased given the relative safety of vaping when compared to smoking.

“This study suggests that whether the health risks associated with nicotine product use among US adolescents have increased owing to the popularity of e-cigarettes depends on one’s assessment of the risks associated with vaping,” reported the researchers.

Putting things into perspective

In line with this argument, a recent article published in the American Journal of Public Health highlighted that the potential of smoking cessation via e-cigarettes is being largely overshadowed by media coverage on the potential risks that vaping represents for teens. Kenneth Warner, dean emeritus at the Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University and Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and 14 other past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, co-authored an article highlighting how the potential benefits of vaping are being overshadowed by all the panic surrounding the potential risks of teen vaping.

“Because evidence indicates that e-cigarette use can increase the odds of quitting smoking, many scientists, including this essay’s authors, encourage the health community, media, and policymakers to more carefully weigh vaping’s potential to reduce adult smoking-attributable mortality,” reads the article.

The authors reviewed the health risks of e-cigarettes, their potential for smoking cessation and addressed the concerns about youth vaping. Taking all this into consideration they then highlighted the need to balance valid concerns about teen vaping and potential benefits for adult smoking cessation.

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