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