Researchers behind a recent study investigating vaping trends in the United Kingdom are criticizing the media for spinning their data to push a false narrative.
The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper, used a study from the University of Stirling in a July 28 article to argue that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway to smoking, particularly among young adults and youths. The author cites the study, funded by Cancer Research UK, to claim that 40 percent of young adults who try a vaping device will go on to smoke cigarettes, Vaping Post reported Wednesday.
Professor Linda Bauld, a researcher on the study, called out The Scotsman for misrepresenting the research, arguing the proliferation of falsehoods on vaping may discourage smokers to use them to quit, possibly costing lives.
“This study doesn’t prove that trying vaping caused young people to smoke, and the authors of the research were careful to point that out in their article,” Bauld said in a post on PressReader. “When e-cigarettes began to become popular, around 2010, 13 percent of 15 year-olds in Scotland were smokers. By 2015, this figure was now down to 7 percent, and is just 2 percent in 13-year olds. If e-cigarettes were causing tobacco use in young people, these trends would be reversed.”
Major health groups in England, like the Royal College of Physicians, agree that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. They also recommend vaping to patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products.
The U.K.’s Office of National Statistics shows the smoking rate in the U.K. dropped from 17.2 percent in 2015 to 15.8 percent in 2016. The U.K. now has the second lowest smoking rate in all of Europe.
Bauld says efforts to misrepresent the health impacts of vaping risks undoing the progress made on improving public health in the U.K.
“Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of cancer, and kills more people in Scotland than anything else we can prevent,” Bauld said. “We must do everything we can to help smokers to stop. That includes being clear about the evidence on e-cigarettes. To do otherwise may cost lives.”
Research shows that smoking trends follow the same pattern in countries where vaping is becoming popular. A study from the University of California released July 26 showed that a record number of Americans are ditching cigarettes with the aid of vaping devices, bolstering the image of e-cigarettes as an important tool for improving public health.
Researchers found the rate of Americans quitting smoking jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. That means roughly 350,000 smokers gave up the habit between 2014 and 2015, which the researchers largely attribute to the rising popularity of vaping.
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