Study: Vaping does not renormalise smoking

Posted 10th January 2017 by Mawsley
The Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) specialises in undertaking large and small scale studies in a variety of areas to do with substance use and abuse. Doctor Neil McKeganey headed up a piece of research for CSUR that pours cold water on the notion that vaping is a gateway to smoking.

The research looked at one hundred non-smokers, who ranged in age between 16 and 29 years old. The process involved interviewing them with semi-structured interviews to discover their opinions and understanding.

The majority of responses, around 96%, demonstrated that people within this age group were perfectly able to distinguish between vaping devices and traditional tobacco cigarettes. The majority expressed no desire to vape, and added that the primary function of vaping devices is for smokers looking to quit or reduce the number of cigarettes smoked.

Moreover, those taking part in the study expressed that advertising and the presence of others vaping did not make them wish to smoke or make smoking more appealing.

McKeganey, a director of CSUR, said: "These results cast doubt on claims of a link between the increased popularity of e-cigarettes, their ensuing visibility when used in public, and any resulting increase in the desire to smoke tobacco among young people.”

The lead author of the study added: "While the study suggests more people now consider vaping to be a 'normal' activity, it also shows that there is no basis for regulating e-cigarettes based on a fear they are making smoking more attractive, because this fear is clearly unfounded. Any restrictions on their use, for example in public places, should reflect the reality that people do not think smoking is any more socially acceptable just because more people are seen to be vaping."

“If anything, the results of this study show the opposite is true. Vaping is making smoking less interesting for non-smokers,” McKeganey continued. “While there is still a need to pursue further research into e-cigarettes, on the basis of our results the devices in their current form can be clearly distinguished from traditional cigarettes. Future regulation that restricts their manufacture or design risks inadvertently pushing e-cigarettes to resemble combustible tobacco products, which could lead to confusion and should be avoided at all costs.”

Sixty-one percent of young people did say the sight of an e-cigarette made them curious about the device and the experience of vaping, but only one third had tried one after seeing it. The remaining respondents said that seeing someone vaping didn’t make them curious at all.

Neil McKeganey has previously worked on research linked to vaping. If you would like to view his research it can be found here.