Medical experts say a new study about teens who use e-cigarettes is misleading.
The study that has caused so many doctors and public health experts to speak out is being used to present the idea that teens who use e-cigarettes are six times more likely to begin smoking tobacco. The 12-month study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California and the results were published in the Journal of Paediatrics earlier this week.
The research involved 300 high school students. They were questioned at the beginning of the study and all of the students said they had never smoked. However half of the volunteers admitted they had tried vaping an e-cigarette. At the completion of the study the researchers concluded teens who use e-cigarettes are six times more likely to smoke than teens who had never tried vaping.
Lead researcher Jessica Barrington-Trimis said, “The increase in e-cigarette use, which may be followed by increases in cigarette use, could result in an erosion of the progress that has been made over the last several decades in tobacco control.”
But leading experts on tobacco usage say the research is riddled with holes, Barrington-Trimis is “dramatically misrepresenting” the conclusions, and the findings are questionable at best.
Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction (King’s College, London) said, “The authors seem to argue that trying one puff of an e-cigarette caused some young people to try tobacco smoking within the next 16 months.”
Stressing the flawed nature of this line of thinking, McNeill pointed said, “If this were so, we would be seeing large increases in tobacco smoking, but instead we are seeing marked declines in youth tobacco smoking since e-cigarettes came on the market. This suggests e-cigarettes are actually helping young people not to smoke tobacco cigarettes.”
Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, was also very critical of the study, stating, “The authors misinterpret their findings.”
According to Hajek it is not possible to ascertain whether teens who use e-cigarettes are likely to begin smoking without checking to see if an increases in e-cigarette experimentation corresponds to a similar increase in smoking.
“Such data is available,” Hajek stated, “and it shows that as e-cigarette experimentation increased, smoking rates in young people have gone down. In fact, the decline in youth smoking over the past few years has been faster than ever before.”