“E-cigarettes are recruiting at least some youth who likely would never have smoked combustible cigarettes,” she claims after leading a team looking at smoking by 16-18 year olds over a twenty-year period. Her data shows that 19.1% of sixth form students smoked in 1995 and the figure dropped to 7.8% by 2014.
But the research team has skewed this good news because they go on to highlight that the combined vaping/smoking figure for 2014 was 13.7%: “The high combined prevalence of e-cigarette use or cigarette use in 2014, compared with historical Southern California smoking prevalence, suggests that adolescents are not merely substituting e-cigarettes for cigarettes but that e-cigarettes are instead recruiting a new group of users who would not likely have initiated combustible tobacco product use in the absence of e-cigarettes, which poses a potential threat to the public health of adolescent populations.”
Only it doesn’t show that, there is absolutely no evidence that “e-cigarettes are … recruiting a new group of users.” What the evidence represents is that smoking rates have fallen and some of those who would be smoking are vaping instead – they are doing something that is at least 95% safer than smoking.
The justification for this claim is that almost a third of those questioned in the upper age bracket smoke or vape – and this is, they say, as bad as a third of teens saying they smoked in 2004. But it’s not as bad; it’s clearly an improvement because a substantial number of the interviewees in 2014 were not smoking.
Barrington-Trimis added: “[Vaping is] perceived as less harmful and less dangerous than combustible cigarettes. The increase in vaping, possibly followed by increases in smoking, could erode the progress that has been made over the last several decades in tobacco control.”
“Possibly,” she said. “Possibly followed by increases in smoking.” Zero evidence, absolutely no justification for such prediction of calamity, just that an increase in vaping could be followed by an increase in smoking. No validation but that didn’t matter to Consumer Reports asking “Is Vaping Introducing a Whole New Generation to Nicotine?” No, Consumer Reports, not according to balanced and fair evidence from the UK. Nor did the absence of proof prevent Reuters from sending out copy titled “E-cigarettes contribute to increased tobacco use by teens.” Because, Reuters, it doesn’t. Or, if it does, there’s not one reasonable piece of research demonstrating it.
Young people break rules, they experiment and dabble in things their parents might not approve of – but if the option were between smoking and something 95% safer (unless you are keeping them locked in their room) then electronic cigarettes would be the preferable choice for informed adults.