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No gateway, says statistics group

Britain’s Office for National Statistics  has published figures suggesting that “gateway” fears – the idea that vaping could lead to smoking – are unwarranted. According to ONS statistics, vapers are almost exclusively smokers and ex-smokers, using e-cigs or more recent vaping products as a smoking cessation tool.

Says Dr. Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, “These data should again alleviate the fears expressed by some over an e-cigarette gateway effect - people trying e-cigarettes before moving on to the much more harmful practice of smoking.”

Fewer than 1 in 300 electronic cigarette users has never smoked, according to the newly published ONS data. Of the 17.14% of Brits who use e-cigs, 12% are smokers trying to quit, 5% are ex-smokers who have apparently succeeded, and 0.14% are “never smokers” who seem to  just think vaping is cool.

Professor Kevin Fenton is the National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, and Professor Fenton stresses the need for sensible regulation, to assure standards: "Balanced and effective regulation of e-cigarettes will help manage the risks and maximise the potential for these products to replace smoking.”

The ONS also reports that smoking in Britain fell to 19% in 2013, the lowest figure ever. In 1946 it was 46%. Not coincidentally, it would seem, the recent period of the most dramatic drop in cigarette consumption coincides with the rising popularity of electronic cigarettes.

In its article on the subject, the BBC notes that the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) plans to regulate e-cigs as medicines beginning in 2016, with additional strictures to be placed by the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) – unless vaping supplies company Totally Wicked succeeds in its legal challenge of that misguided document in the EU courts.

The BBC article calls e-cigs, in effect, a smoking cessation product when it states: “At present they are not available on the NHS, unlike other smoking cessation aids such as nicotine patches.”