Earlier this week the CDC issued a startling report blaming vaping for reversing the decline in youth tobacco use over the last several years. CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement, “The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use” and claimed, “It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction.”
But not so fast.
Across the pond, there’s a different perspective in the vaping versus smoking debate. A report from Public Health England, the UK public health agency, concluded that “E-cigarettes are attracting very few young people who have never smoked into regular use, and e-cigarettes do not appear to be undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking in the UK among young people.”
Public Health England also concluded that “despite some experimentation with these devices among never smokers, e-cigarettes are attracting very few young people who have never smoked into regular use.”
According to the agency, the most common reason for vaping is and continues to be quitting smoking. Public Health England also reported that on average, smokers who were vaping, “on average have higher motivation to stop smoking than other smokers.”
The main area of contention between the two agencies is whether or not youth vaping will lead eventually to smoking , and whether or not vaping is a type of “gateway” to smoking.
The Public Health England report stated, “Never smokers in the UK who try e-cigarettes are more likely to have tried smoking subsequently than those who have not tried e-cigarettes. A causal link has not been established and neither has progression to regular smoking.”
The report also claimed that smoking cessation rates had increased significantly.
“In the first half of 2017, quit success rates in England were at their highest rates so far observed and for the first time, parity across different socio-economic groups was observed. It is plausible that e-cigarettes have contributed to this.”
There is some agreement in the vaping versus smoking debate. Researchers on both sides of the argument agree that further research is needed, and that preventing underage e-cigarette use is critical, utilizing tools such as age restrictions. More research is also needed on the trajectory of e-cigarette usage in youth in both directions – not only from e-cigarette usage to smoking, but from smoking to e-cigarette use as well.
Soupwire has the latest in vaping news and the vaping versus smoking debate.