While the findings might give cause for optimism, the theme running through the study remained a cause for concern. The team began by talking about “ever tried e-cigarettes” in the 11–18 years population: “There has been a global increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes amongst young people. In Great Britain, 15.4% of adolescents aged 11–18 years tried e-cigarettes in 2019, an increase from 12.7% in 2015.”
They dismissed the comprehensive coverage on the subject by ASH/Cancer Research UK’s annual report – where regular teen vaping was demonstrably confined to a tiny number of smokers and ex-smokers – by referencing a couple of dubious studies and saying, “similar [ever tried] trends have been noted in other countries.”
The report takes a turn into the absurd when it states: “The escalation of youth e-cigarette use has raised significant concerns, mainly around their potential to act as a gateway to tobacco smoking and the renormalisation of smoking behaviour.”
Declining smoking rates and teen smoking rates on an annual basis clearly isn’t enough to put these tired old fears to bed.
“There are also concerns that adolescent e-cigarette use will promote experimentation amongst younger children. Research suggests that experimental ‘ever use’ of e-cigarettes may be linked to uptake of tobacco smoking,” they continue – citing a single study looking at American teen cannabis use of all things.
The team can’t even bring itself to talk about risk honestly: “There is some evidence to suggest the risk to health in the short term is considerably less for e-cigarettes relative to tobacco cigarettes.” There isn’t “some” evidence, there is overwhelming evidence and only an absolute fool would argue against it.
The commentary is confusing given the quality of some of the studies the group referenced, and it colours the conclusion: “Of concern was the finding that almost all viewed vaping … as inappropriate for children their own age but almost half considered it to be acceptable adult behaviour.”
They recommend policymakers, practitioners, educators and parents consider, “minimising potential risks via appropriate policy responses and educational practice.” Let’s hope this team aren’t in charge of the educational materials.
- “Welsh Primary Schoolchildren’s Perceptions of Electronic Cigarettes: A Mixed Methods Study” by Porcellato, Ross-Houle, Quigg, Harris, Bigland, Bates, Timpson, Gee, Bishop, Gould, and Davies – [link]