A health advocacy group is coming out against electronic cigarettes in Kentucky, decrying the devices as harmful and a potential gateway to smoking cigarettes for U.S. youth.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky released a report Tuesday slamming e-cigarettes for prolonging the fight against tobacco and potentially hooking another generation on cigarettes. The report says 40 percent of adults in the state between the ages of 18 and 45 have tried a vaping device. That figure climbed to 74 percent among lower income residents, sparking fears from the group vaping is harming public health, reports The Lane Report.
The report only provides anecdotal evidence that e-cigarette use is becoming pervasive in society and little suggesting a major health risk to the public and teens. Despite increased instances of trying the devices, only 13 percent of high school seniors said they currently use an e-cigarette device, down from 16 percent in 2015.
“Research suggests that e-cigs may be a gateway to using other forms of tobacco, and they can be just as harmful,” Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said in a statement. “They expose users to toxic chemicals, including nicotine, which long has been proven to be addictive and responsible for a wide range of health issues. E-cigs are simply not a safe alternative to smoking, especially for young adults and nonsmokers.”
The report echoes familiar arguments being pushed across the U.S. that youth vaping is creating a public health crisis and e-cigarettes overall must be regulated as if they were traditional cigarettes. Since the surgeon general and Centers For Disease Control and Prevention came out against e-cigarettes Dec. 8, state health officials and local lawmakers across the country have been turning up the heat on the industry.
Despite these mounting efforts many medical professionals strongly disagree with this characterization of vaping. Furthermore, many argue there is little evidence to back up claims of a “gateway effect” to smoking.
Critics of the federal stance against vaping say officials are ignoring the benefits of using the devices instead of cigarettes and their utility in helping current smokers quit. A survey published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last year found 57.8 percent of practicing physicians recommend e-cigarettes to smokers trying to quit.
A recent study from the Virginia Commonwealth University of 3,757 freshmen found vapers were no more likely to start smoking than people who do not use the devices. Just six students from the body of thousands that participated switched from vaping to smoking cigarettes, while 20 students who began the study as smokers transitioned to vaping.
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