Cancer Charity: Vaping Not A Gateway To Smoking
CANCER Research does not support concern that e-cigarettes are a “strong gateway” into smoking, it has announced.
The UK charity funded research by top university King’s College London into vaping and smoking amongst young people but is concerned some corners of the media has misinterpreted its findings.
The study did find an association between both e-cigarette use and smoking, however the charity is now keen to point out that the association doesn’t mean one behavior caused the other. The study found that it is equally likely that trying an e-cigarette “causes” trying smoking, as trying smoking “causes” trying an e-cigarette.
It also revealed the proportion of young people regularly using e-cigarettes is very small. In the findings, the proportion of young people using these products at least monthly was low (5% > monthly smoking, 2% > monthly e-cigarette use), consistent with other findings in the UK. This means it was only possible to explore associations between trying each product and not regular use. The charity says it can’t say for sure whether the young people in the study who tried these products would become regular smokers or whether they would have gone on to smoke regardless of e-cigarettes.
Furthermore, it was much more common for young people to have tried smoking than e-cigarettes: only 21 had tried an e-cigarette but not smoked, compared with 118 who had tried smoking but not e-cigarettes.
Youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline and regular use of e-cigarettes is rare and is almost entirely confined to those who have smoked before.
The evidence does not therefore support the concern that e-cigarettes are a “strong gateway” into smoking. In the UK sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s is prohibited as is advertising for e-cigarettes on TV, radio, the Internet and the press. All of these measures are designed to protect young people in particular which the well-respected charity continues to support.
Carl Alexander from Cancer Research UK said: “While this study shows young people who experiment with e-cigarettes are likely to try smoking and vice versa, the researchers didn’t look at whether the youngsters then became regular users or whether they might have tried smoking anyway.
“Research like this is important to help us understand the potential impact of e-cigarettes on young people.
“It’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes to under 18s in this country and regular use among those who’ve never smoked tobacco is very low. Tobacco is the biggest preventable cause of death in the world.
“The evidence so far shows that e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking and people are successfully using them to give up tobacco.”