Study Reveals E-Cigarettes May Not Be a Gateway to Smoking

By John Madden Posted October 30, 2013

Teenage girls smoking a tobacco cigarette


Two researchers presented yesterday what may very well wind up one of the most important resources to date against the argument that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to teen smoking.


During a press briefing at the American Association for Cancer Research Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Theodore Wagener, Ph.D. and Scott Leischow of the Mayo Clinic’s cancer prevention and control program revealed their findings from a survey of 1,300 college students. The study, which has yet to be peer reviewed and published in a medical journal, not only debunked the myth that electronic cigarettes entice teenagers into smoking tobacco but that the majority of teens who tried them weren’t current consumers of nicotine products.


Last month, the CDC released data showing that experimental use of electronic cigarettes among middle and high school students more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. However, as I’ve previously mentioned, more than nine out of ten teenagers who tried e-cigs had also smoked a conventional cigarette. The CDC didn’t state whether or not they started smoking after trying e-cigarettes so it can be inferred that they were using e-cigarettes as an alternative to the tobacco variety, not the other way around.


Yesterday’s announcement only further debunks the CDC’s interpretation of their own study. The average age of the 1,300 students was just 19 and only 43 of them said their first nicotine product was an e-cigarette. Furthermore, only one out of those 43 wound up moving on to regular cigarettes. The majority of the rest reported no current nicotine or tobacco use. “It didn’t seem as though it really proved to be a gateway to anything,” Wagener said.


With the FDA set to announce regulations of electronic cigarette products any day now, this could be a vital piece of evidence that should protect the vaping community. I say should because in all reality it probably won’t have much of an effect on the FDA’s decision as they probably made up their minds months ago.


But for now, we know that out of the college-age participants, only 2.3% who tried an e-cigarette before ever smoking went on to become a smoker. I don’t know about you but that percentage is awfully low to even suggest that electronic cigarettes could be a gateway to smoking. I will update you with more information once the study is approved for medical publication, but until then we can at least rest a little easier knowing there is a small, but vital piece of scientific evidence proving that e-cigs are not a gateway to tobacco smoking.


Source: E-Cigarettes May Not Be Gateway to Smoking: Study


  • LisThomas

    The findings of the research yet again proved that one more negative study about ecigs being the gateway to smoking is debunked. Teens who are curious to try ecigs can go with zero nicotine. But we do not have that option with traditional cigarettes. We are already addicted to smokes by the time we are bored with traditional cigs. The good thing is teens smokers who switched to ecigs are actually reducing the harm done to their body by tobacco cigs. So also, they are saving themselves from becoming lifelong tobacco cigarette smokers.

    It is inspiring to see that additional study on teens use of ecigs are carried out. More and more research like this are welcome as it will help us to understand the health impact on our society.

    • I agree. And it would be beneficial to have more similar studies carried out. Thanks @LisThomas:disqus for your comment!

  • Rim

    People smoke for different reasons and teens are mostly influenced by peers, parents
    and stress levels rather than mere advertising or flavoring. Moreover, the high start-up cost of ecigs and the easy availability of tobacco cigs are unlikely to attract teens or young adults to ecigs. We all know that ecigs are less toxic and less carcinogenic compared to traditional ones, so even if teen smokers are choosing it, it will actually benefit their health.

  • Jay

    Yes I too think that 2.3% is a very low percentage to consider that ecigs may
    lead to smoking for teenagers. However, I think parents should be vigilant
    and talk openly with their children and let them know that it’s better to abstain from vaping even though it is less than smoking tobacco cigarettes. Because vaping is for those who want to quit smoking and it should stay like

  • Sue B.

    If anything, e-cigs are a gateway AWAY FROM smoking.

  • Mista

    Vaping a gateway to smoking? And eating chocolate is a gateway to eating feces. Lol.Didn’t the overall sales of cigarettes drop recently, while e-cig sales are going up? It wouldn’t make sense that vaping is a “gateway” when sales are dropping on cigarettes. If sales for BOTH e-cigs and cigarettes were on the rise, I think it would be a different story. BUT that’s not the case. Lots of “if’s”, “but’s” and exaggerated details when it comes to people trying to discredit e-cigs. When are they going to face vaping head-on with facts? Oh, that’s right… never; because there’s no way they can prove that e-cigs cause more harm than cigarettes. Lol.