The hysteria over vaping allegedly serving as a gateway to smoking for teens is unfounded and goes against scientific evidence, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Stirling and Public Health England collaborated for a study looking at teen vaping trends in the United Kingdom. Anti-vaping activists continue to push the claim that the promotion of e-cigarettes risk hooking a whole new generation on tobacco, but the researchers said these fears are simply not reflected in the data, reports The Guardian.
The study found roughly 10 to 20 percent of teens ages 11 to 16 have tried a vaping device at least once, however, only 3 percent used them regularly. Daily users among this age group were overwhelmingly found to already smoke. Only 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent of teens who have never smoked are regular users of a vape device.
“Recent studies have generated alarming headlines that e-cigarettes are leading to smoking,” Linda Bauld, a professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, told The Guardian. “Our analysis of the latest surveys from all parts of the United Kingdom, involving thousands of teenagers shows clearly that for those teens who don’t smoke, e-cig experimentation is simply not translating into regular use. Our study also shows that smoking rates in young people are continuing to decline.”
Overall, smoking rates for adults in the U.K. are also dropping. 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, and officials say vaping is a big part of the reason.
Researchers focused on harm reduction say efforts to misrepresent the health impacts of vaping risks undoing the progress made on improving public health in the U.K.
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