The ‘gateway’ argument is one routinely dished out by campaigners and politicians as an excuse to regulate e-cigarettes. The media would have you believe that after teens have tried vaping, they will eventually be tempted to move to cigarettes and become hooked for life.
But the stats don’t support this. While the percentage of teenagers who report vaping has risen dramatically in recent years, smoking rates among teenagers have fallen to record lows.
The “studies” that suggest vaping is a gateway to smoking are very flawed. They generally focus on the percentage of teenagers who have ever tried e-cigarettes and the percentage who have used them in the last month, without looking at how many are experimenters or occasional users and how many are daily vapers.
These studies also assume that teen vapers are inhaling nicotine, causing them to move onto smoking in the future.
Many recent studies have thankfully proven this key assumption incorrect.
Researchers for the publication Tobacco Control surveyed almost 14,983 students about their e-cigarette use, including whether they had ever used the devices, the last time they had used an e-cigarette, how often they use the devices, and what substances were in the vapor they inhaled at last use.
A total of 3,837 students reported having ever used an e-cigarette, of whom 1,701 reported vaping in the past month. Of the students, 1,085 reported having used an e-cigarette up to five times, while 616 reported using the devices six times or more.
Looking at what substances e-cigarette users reported vaping, the team found “just flavoring” was the most common, with around 65-66 percent of students across all three grades reporting flavoring as the substance they inhaled at last use. This is a critical point since the majority of teens are not inhaling any nicotine.
Therefore the argument that their nicotine addiction will lead them to start smoking is not possible.
We need to start questioning why the media is so against vaping and start voicing the facts. Increasing numbers of teen vapers is a good news story when combined with teen smoking continuing to decline.
The truth is that the media is controlled by tobacco lobbyists who want to regulate or stop vaping, negatively affecting big tobacco revenue. More and more doctors and health organizations are starting to speak up about the potential benefits of vaping public health. We have the opportunity to save millions of lives – let’s not let big tobacco use the media to scare the public with their lies.