Researchers from the University of Buffalo and the University of Michigan have conducted a study that provides further proof vaping does not encourage people to start smoking.
Writing for a paper published in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Dependance, lead author and professor of community health and health behaviour in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, Lynn Kozlowski, said: “The national trends in vaping and cigarette smoking do not support the argument that vaping is leading to smoking.”
Kozlowski also pointed out the fact that the growing use of e-cigarettes has caused a decrease in the amount of people who are smoking tobacco products.
“Our analysis focused on the risks for moving from e-cigarettes to cigarettes. There is little evidence that those who have never smoked cigarettes or never used other tobacco products and first try e-cigarettes will later move on to cigarette usage with great frequency or daily, regular smoking,” Kozlowski said.
Kozlowski also pointed out the shortcoming in many of the studies that are so often used to promote the idea that vaping leads to smoking. E-cigarette flavourings are also an important factor. Many young people who start vaping stick to e-liquids that have a flavour they like, but do not contain nicotine. In fact, according to data collected by the University of Michigan, only 20% of the students surveyed favoured the use of e-cigarettes that contains nicotine.
Backing up Kozlowski, co-author, Kenneth Warner (Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor of Public Health in Michigan’s School of Public Health) said the evidence from opposing studies is “weak at best”.
“All that it demonstrates is that there is a connection between kids who vape and future experimentation with smoking. But we know that these kids are different from those who do not vape. Even if there is a small gateway effect, it is totally swamped by the overall trend toward less and less smoking,” Warner said.
Kozlowski and Warner agree the public has a right to receive accurate information about the risks of vaping v the risks of tobacco products.
“From the best evidence to date, e-cigarettes are much less dangerous than cigarettes. The public has become confused about this,” Kozlowski said.
“The persistent focus on the potential risks to kids has caused adults’ understanding of the risks of e-cigarettes to worsen over time. This is likely discouraging adult smokers from using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool,” Warner added.
Although the work of Kozlowski, Warner, and the other researchers could be seen as promising light at the end of a very long tunnel, it seems likely the media will continue its bid to make vaping look bad. A report published by Public Health England, in 2015, shows vaping is 95% safer than smoking, and 6.1 million smoker in Europe have stopped smoking by vaping instead. Neither of these facts has stopped the media from searching out information that misleads the public into thinking vaping is as bad as smoking. Clearly this is not the case, but in a world where the truth is buried underneath so much misinformation and lies, e-cigarette’s potential to save lives is likely to continue to be severely hampered. The only ones to benefit from this are the big tobacco companies.