Health & Studies

Oz Gateway Closed

Claims that vaping is a gateway to smoking have been rebuffed in Australia.

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Researchers from the School of Psychology at Curtin University claim that their work demonstrates 3 in 5 young vapers will “likely” begin smoking within six months. Expert harm reduction organisation ATHRA issued a detailed rebuttal to the work and stated the study failed to supply evidence to support “the pre-determined conclusion”.

Healthway claims to be “committed to improving the health of all Western Australians”, but its anti-vaping approach begs to differ. It funded the flawed study by researchers at the Curtin University’s School of Psychology, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

Lead author Dr Michelle Jongenelis said: “Tobacco smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable illness and premature death globally, and the introduction of smoking via the use of electronic cigarettes is a considerable threat to tobacco control. Although e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, they still contain a number of harmful substances that should be avoided.”

“To assist in guiding the development of policy in Australia, our study examined whether e-cigarettes serve as a gateway product to conventional smoking and contribute to the development of a new population of cigarette smokers.”

“We found that young Australian adults who had never smoked, but were either currently or had previously used e-cigarettes, were significantly more curious about trying a tobacco cigarette, more willing to smoke, and reported a greater intention of smoking in the next six months compared to those who had never used an e-cigarette.”

The research found that one in five people who had tried an e-cigarette, even just one or two puffs, would probably or definitely smoke a cigarette in the future

ATHRA (Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association) responded: “The study did not find evidence to support the pre-determined conclusion, but the researchers claim to have shown it anyway. They make this conclusion in spite of acknowledging that they cannot draw a causal link (i.e. that vaping increases the risk of smoking) from this type of study because it is cross-sectional.”

“What this study actually shows is that young people who vape are predisposed to try smoking, just as they are more likely to try alcohol, cannabis and other risky behaviours. It shows only that the two behaviours are associated, most likely due to a common predisposition.”

“The study media release makes the alarming claim that 'three in five Australian young adults who currently use e-cigarettes are likely to initiate tobacco cigarette smoking in the next six months'. This implies that vaping will cause a massive shift to smoking, however it is based on a sample of only 20 young people who used an e-cigarette once or more in the last month, of whom 12 were found to be more susceptible to take up smoking than non-users. This group was only 2% of the total sample used in the study!”

“The theoretical claims in this paper are incompatible with what is occurring in the real world. If vaping was causing more smoking in young adults as claimed, we would expect to see increasing smoking rates. In fact, we are seeing the opposite.”


  • “E-cigarette use is associated with susceptibility to tobacco use among Australian young adults” by Jongenelis, Jardine, Kamerona, Rudaizky and Pettigrew – [link]
  • ATHRA – [link]
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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