Study Questions Vaping’s Role as Gateway to Teen Smoking

By Corinne Gretler | November 4, 2019

Vaping might not be the gateway to teen smoking that many had feared, according to a study.

Using e-cigarettes doesn’t raise the likelihood a teenager would smoke, according to a study by U.S. researchers. Smoking can be entirely attributable to other factors affecting adolescents’ inclination toward cigarettes, such as parental education, peer smoking, anxiety and other substance abuse.

E-cigarette sales have been hit amid a regulatory crackdown in the U.S. amid concerns that producers like Juul Labs Inc. have been marketing to underage smokers. Nearly 1,900 cases of lung illnesses associated with vaping have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the U.K., public health officials have recently reiterated their stance that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than combustibles and urged smokers to make the switch.

The study examined the relationship between vaping and conventional cigarette smoking, looking at 14 shared risk factors, based on surveys of U.S. eighth- and 10th-graders conducted in 2015 and 2016.

While the vapers were more likely to smoke cigarettes, the effect was muted once the analysis accounted for risk factors that are shared between the two activities. However, the researchers did find an association between vaping and lifetime cigarette use and said further study is needed to determine if there is a causal link.

Read more: Vaping Safety Debate Between Researchers, Activists Intensifies with Mystery Illness

The findings are appearing in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, a scientific journal whose publisher doesn’t accept funding from the tobacco industry.

The research by Arielle Selya at Sanford Research in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Sooyong Kim at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks was supported by the University of North Dakota, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute for General Medical Sciences.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, has campaigned and given money in support of a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco and supports efforts to reduce global demand for tobacco worldwide.

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