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Evidence Piles Up Showing Vaping Is Not Sparking More Youth Smoking

(REUTERS/Jason Lee)

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Vaping is not serving as a gateway to traditional smoking, and inaccurate reporting on the health effects of electronic cigarettes is hurting the chances of smokers who are trying to quit, according to a new medical research paper.

Public health researchers from the University at Buffalo and the University of Michigan said evidence does not support claims from federal officials that vaping leads to cigarette smoking and is sparking a public health crisis among the youth.

Dr. Lynn Kozlowski and Dr. Kenneth Warner, writing in the journal, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, dissect numerous studies that make alarmist claims about e-cigarettes — even when the evidence is not present, according to a press release from the University of Buffalo.

“The national trends in vaping and cigarette smoking do not support the argument that vaping is leading to smoking,” Kozlowski said in a statement. “From the best evidence to date, e-cigarettes are much less dangerous than cigarettes. The public has become confused about this.”

The pair note misleading statements from researchers linking e-cigarettes to smoking misrepresent what the actual data is showing. In one example, researchers based their analysis off the metric of vaping ‘at least one puff in the past six months.’ (RELATED: Big Study Linking Youth Vaping To Smoking Actually Contains Evidence To The Contrary)

Researchers of a recent study from the Virginia Commonwealth University of 3,757 freshmen claimed the study suggested a gateway effect to smoking. In reality, 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.

“The persistent focus on the potential risks to kids has caused adults’ understanding of the risks of e-cigarettes to worsen over time,” Warner said in a statement. “This is likely discouraging adult smokers from using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.”

The CDC released a report Dec. 8 condemning vaping as an unhealthy practice and warned that vaping poses a significant risk to youth. Localities across the U.S. responded by implementing regulations treating vaping the same way as traditional cigarettes, and some measures slapped the industry with taxes as high as 40 percent.

Critics of the federal stance against vaping say officials are ignoring the fact the devices can help lifelong smokers kick the habit. The United Kingdom actually promotes the sale of e-cigarettes as a health-conscious alternative to smoking. A study found nearly all of the 2.6 million e-cigarette users in the U.K. are former or current smokers – many of whom are using the device to quit.

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