WASHINGTON, DC — A first-of-its-kind longitudinal study could cause some to rethink the claim that vaping is acting as a gateway to cigarette smoking.
The study, which is newly-published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, followed 3,757 college freshmen at Virginia Commonwealth University for one year to examine whether vaping at baseline was associated with the progression from never smoking to ever and/or current smoking at follow-up.
In line with other studies on youth experimentation with vapor products, the authors report that current users of e-cigarettes at baseline were more likely to have tried smoking at least once in the year after compared to those who were not using e-cigarettes.
However, in a critical finding that runs contrary to the theory that vaping is leading youth to become regular smokers, the study finds that current e-cigarette users at baseline were no more likely to progress to current smoking than young adults who were not using e-cigarettes.
“The main finding of this study is there is no evidence that vaping is causing youth to become smokers,” writes Dr. Michael Siegel, a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, at the Rest of the Story. “In fact, the paper provides strong evidence that vaping is not associated with progression to smoking.”
Dr. Siegel notes that even with the large sample size, the researchers were only able to identify six students who transitioned from current e-cigarette use to current smoking. Moreover, some students may have derived benefits from e-cigarette use. There were 20 students who used cigarettes at baseline but had ceased smoking and were only using e-cigarettes at follow-up. An additional 45 students smoked and vaped at baseline, but were only vaping at follow-up.
Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for sensible policy towards vapor products, commented:
“For nearly a decade, anti-harm-reduction activists have been claiming that e-cigarette use would inevitably lead young people to become smokers. The data is proving them wrong. As this study shows, young e-cigarette users may experiment with smoking, but that does not mean that these users are actually becoming smokers.
“In the United States, the rise in experimentation with vaping by youth and young adults has been accompanied by record declines in cigarette smoking. We should not lose sight of the significant public health gains these reductions in smoking represent.”
About the American Vaping Association
The American Vaping Association is a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that encourage the growth and sustainability of small- and medium-sized businesses in the rapidly growing vaping and electronic cigarette industry. The AVA was founded by Gregory Conley, a consumer and industry advocate with a long track record of advocating for vapor products dating back to 2010.
We are dedicated to educating the public and government officials about public health benefits offered by vapor products, which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine or nicotine-free solution and create an inhalable vapor. The AVA is not a trade group and does not speak for any particular businesses, including our industry sponsors.