Largest ever such survey of British 11- to 16-year-olds reveals experimentation with vaping devices does not translate into regular use and smoking rates still in decline.
Young people who try e-cigarettes are not more likely to take up smoking as a result, according to a substantial new study.
Public health experts have been divided over e-cigarettes. Some believe they will help millions quit their deadly tobacco habit, while others are convinced they are little more than a stalking horse for the tobacco industry. Some of the big international tobacco companies have invested in manufacturing e-cigarettes. Philip Morris International has even spoken of a “smoke-free future”, where it would make its money from liquid nicotine for vaping devices rather than tobacco.
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But other anti-smoking campaigners accuse the big companies of an ambition to promote their cigarettes by stealth, arguing that the promotion and advertising of vaping could help smoking shed its pariah status.
The biggest concerns have been that young people who have been smoking in fewer and fewer numbers over recent decades will experiment with e-cigarettes and move on to old-style cigarettes which kill because of the tar content, not the nicotine.
But the largest study yet undertaken of young people’s use of e-cigarettes and smoking in the UK concludes that fears of e-cigarettes becoming a gateway to tobacco for young people are largely unfounded. The study, which was based on five separate surveys gathering data from 2015 to 2017, is from a collaboration including experts from Public Health England.
A tenth to a fifth of 11- to 16-year-olds had tried e-cigarettes, but only 3% or less used them regularly and those were mostly already tobacco smokers. Among young people who have never smoked, regular use of e-cigarettes was negligible, say the authors, at between only 0.1% and 0.5%.
Declan Connolly, owner of ezSmoke had already debated with Professor Luke Clancy from Tobacco Free Ireland on a previous similar report last week on Newstalk Radio with Pat Kenny. Listen to the podcast at (starts about 20 minutes in) – http://www.newstalk.com/listen_back/13240/38453/23rd_August_2017_-_The_Pat_Kenny_Show_Part_1/