Vaping probably isn’t a gateway to smoking


Tendencies in cigarette and e-cigarette use amongst 16 to 24-year-olds in England counsel that vaping doesn’t encourage extra younger individuals to begin smoking

Well being

10 March 2022

K4EW53 bearded man in a suit in the city vaping

A person vaping

Anna Berdnik/Alamy

Younger individuals who attempt vaping usually tend to later begin smoking – however a brand new evaluation of tendencies in nicotine use in England means that the so-called gateway principle of vaping isn’t the reason.

The actual motive for the hyperlink may very well be that teenagers who begin vaping are the identical ones who’re more likely to attempt smoking, no matter whether or not they ever have an e-cigarette.

Vaping is way much less dangerous for individuals’s well being than smoking, inflicting about 95 per cent much less injury, in line with an estimate by Public Well being England. UK people who smoke are suggested to change to e-cigarettes to assist them give up, however well being our bodies in another nations, such because the US and Australia, take a dimmer view of vaping.

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A key argument towards making it straightforward to purchase e-cigarettes is that younger individuals who begin vaping will get hooked on nicotine, and so will find yourself switching to conventional cigarettes for the quicker nicotine hit. A number of research have proven that youngsters who attempt vaping are extra more likely to find yourself smoking.

However these research merely observe smoking charges in people who’ve vaped and those that haven’t. Such observational analysis can’t present that the primary issue causes the second, solely that the 2 issues correlate.

“It may very well be the case that there’s a standard vulnerability that explains this affiliation. That may very well be, as an illustration, as a result of there’s some genetic predisposition to attempt various things or there’s environmental pressures to attempt issues,” says Lion Shahab at College Faculty London.

As a substitute of taking a look at whether or not people had been more likely to begin smoking, Shahab’s group checked out how the speed of smoking amongst 16 to 24-year-olds in England has modified over the previous 11 years, as vaping caught on.

If there actually was a gateway impact, then, as vaping charges modified, these for smoking additionally ought to have in a associated sample. In truth, whereas vaping on this age group jumped to about 5 per cent in 2013 and has hovered round there since, charges of standard smoking have fallen from about 30 per cent in 2013 to 25 per cent in 2018, the final 12 months of the examine.

The evaluation can’t rule out, nonetheless, that vaping has a really small gateway impact, says Shahab.

The findings could not persuade all critics of e-cigarettes. “I don’t see this examine as refuting the intensive proof that already exists for a gateway impact,” says Martin McKee on the London Faculty of Hygiene & Tropical Drugs. “Following up people is probably the most applicable technique to reply this query.”

Journal reference: Habit, DOI: 10.1111/add.15838

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