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New CDC Data Blows Away Popular E-Cigarette Criticism


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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has blown a major hole in the case against e-cigarettes.

The most vehement critics of e-cigarettes often claim the devices could prove to be a gateway drug luring of non-smoking vapers into trying the real thing.

Critics also fear we haven’t seen the long-term health effects of vaping, arguing regulators and lawmakers should take a stricter stance on taxing e-cigarettes and raising the age at which they can be bought.

But according to a CDC report released on Monday, public health activists have little reason to fear a rising tide of new smokers in the wake of the vaping revolution.

The report is the first of its kind with the first estimates of e-cigarette use among U.S. adults from a nationally representative household survey.

The CDC study shows that just 0.4 percent of people who had never smoked tobacco were current vapers, using the device either every day or some days. Among the adults who had never smoked cigarettes a meagre 3.4 percent had ever tried and e-cigarette. In total, 12.6 percent of Americans have tried an e-cigarette.

Percentages were significantly different across all smoking status groups

SOURCE: CDC/NCHS, National Health Interview Survey, 2014.

Supporters of e-cigarettes received some good news with the figures showing that 47.6 percent of current smokers had tried vaping and 55.4 percent of smokers who had quit had used e-cigarettes.

A little over 20 percent of current smokers who had tried to give up in the last year were using e-cigarettes, according to the CDC. Just under four percent Americans are classified as regular e-cigarette users.

The study follows data released by the CDC in April showing regular smoking continuing to fall among high school students while e-cigarette use was increasing, with 9.2 percent of students saying they smoked a cigarette in the last month – a fall of 3.5 percent from 2013. Over the same time period, students who reported using e-cigarettes jumped from 4.5 percent to 13.4 percent.

While there remains a significant degree of skepticism about e-cigarettes, not least from Senate Democrats who are urging tighter regulation, prominent anti-smoking groups have attempted to dispel the myths surrounding their use.

In August, Action on Smoking and Health released a study concluding there is no link between the surge in teens taking up e-cigarettes and then switching to regular cigarettes.

Published in the journal Public Health and conducted with polling company YouGov, the research showed teens are experimenting more with e-cigarettes. In 2013, four percent of U.K. 11-18 year-olds said they had tried e-cigarettes “once or twice,” with that figure rising to 10 percent in 2015. But According to ASH, “almost all of those reporting regular use were young people who had been or were currently smokers.”

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