There has been a ton of media coverage on the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes. Despite a lack of evidence, concerns over nonsmokers being sentenced to a lifelong addiction to nicotine through the use of e-cigs continue to flood the news. Now there’s research refuting the CDC’s claims that e-cigarettes are a gateway to addiction and smoking.
Professor Linda Bauld who is a Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Stirling stated, “There’s a common perception that the rise we’ve seen in the use of electronic cigarettes will lead to a new generation of adults who have never smoked but are dependent on nicotine. This fear is based on the expectation that due to the appeal of the products, children who have never used tobacco will be attracted to e-cigarettes and start to use them regularly.”
According to the Youth Tobacco Policy Survey, sponsored by Cancer Research UK, “Of the 1,205 children aged 11-16 who took part in the new UK-wide survey, 12 percent reported that they had tried an e-cigarette. Figures for regular use were lower with two percent reporting e-cigarette use more than monthly and one percent more than weekly… Regular e-cigarette use among non-smoking children was low at three percent.”
Alison Cox is the director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK. Her statement regarding this study is, “These data on electronic cigarette use in youth suggests that e-cigarettes are not serving as a gateway to tobacco. It’s reassuring that rates of smoking in young people are continuing to fall at a time when e-cigarette use has been rising.”
Additionally, a study published in Tobacco Control finds that nonsmoking adults are overall not regular electronic cigarette users either. The study surveyed Minnesota adults and found that of the participants, 5.6% of nonsmokers had tried e-cigarettes and 1.2% had used e-cigarettes in the past month. Only 0.1% of nonsmokers had used e-cigarettes more than 5 days in the past month.
The study concludes, “These results suggest that many infrequent users are experimenters, unlikely to continue their e-cigarette use over time. If that is the case, then measuring e-cigarette current use prevalence based on any use in the past 30 days may lead to an overestimate of regular users. That conclusion is reinforced by the finding that most individuals who had ever used e-cigarettes reported no use in the past 30 days.”
Both of these studies show that nonsmoking youth and adults becoming regular electronic cigarette users is unlikely. Not only are the constant concerns brought on by e-cigarette opponents unwarranted, they are damaging. Hopefully the time will come when anti-smoking activists will look into the potential lifesaving aspects of electronic cigarettes and stop dwelling on these nonexistent threats to public health.