Countries which have endorsed the use of e-cigs for smoking cessation, such as the UK and New Zealand, are not only reporting low smoking rates, but also no increases in teen vaping rates.
Many anti-vape advocates are convinced that vaping may act as a gateway to smoking. The study titled, “Smoking Intention and Progression From E-Cigarette Use to Cigarette Smoking,” claimed that e-cigarette use was associated with a higher risk of future smoking, among teens who had no prior intention of taking up smoking.

To this effect, the current study aimed to measure the gateway effect by looking at the association between prevalence of e-cigarette use among young adults and prevalence of uptake of smoking generally, including among people who have never smoked. If a gateway effect did exist, associated population-wide changes in the prevalence of smoking uptake should increase in parallel to vaping rates. In fact the study authors found no statistically significant association between the prevalence of e-cigarette use and regular smoking among participants aged 16 to 24.

“These findings suggest that the large gateway effects reported in previous studies can be ruled out, particularly among those aged 18 to 24. However, we cannot rule out a smaller gateway effect and we did not study younger age groups. If the upper estimates are true, we would estimate that of the 74 thousand e-cigarette users aged 16 to 17 in England, around 7 thousand would become ever regular smokers as a consequence of e-cigarette use. At the same time, approximately 50 thousand smokers are estimated to quit per year as a consequence of e-cigarette use,” said lead study author Dr. Emma Beard.

No Gateway Effect in countries where vapes are endorsed

In line with these findings, countries which have endorsed the use of e-cigs for smoking cessation, such as the UK and New Zealand, are not only reporting low smoking rates, but also not experiencing increases in teen vaping rates. Supporting reports from such countries and in line with previous studies looking into these patterns, a recent review titled, “Does the gateway theory justify a ban on nicotine vaping in Australia?,” dismissed the Gateway Theory once again.

Review authors Colin Mendelsohn and Wayne Hall had pointed out that a more plausible explanation as to why young people who vape are more likely to smoke, are personality factors. This means that those teens who vape are risk-takers and are therefore also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use cannabis and other substances, as well as have unprotected sex. This argument has already been emphasized by other experts in multiple studies.

The key findings from Mendelsohn’s and Hall’s review were as follows:

  • “Smoking usually precedes vaping. At least 70-85% of teen smokers try vaping after having already started smoking.
  • Most vaping by adolescents is experimental and infrequent
  • Regular vaping is rare among non-smokers. Regular vaping by non-smokers is generally 1% or less in Australian and international surveys.
  • Many adolescent vapers use flavourings only and do not use nicotine. Nicotine addiction is rare in vapers who don’t smoke. In the US, <4% of non-smoking youth who vape have symptoms of nicotine dependence.
  • Some adolescents use vaping to quit smoking.
  • Youth smoking rates have declined rapidly in the UK and US since the introduction of vaping, making it very unlikely that it is increasing youth smoking. It is more likely that vaping is diverting some high-risk teens away from smoking to a safer alternative”

Read Further: MedicalXpress

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