Surge in university studies now indicate vaping is not a gateway to smoking

Even though numerous federal agencies have gone on record in recent months claiming that vaping is a gateway to teen smoking, multiple college-level studies are coming to light that definitively refute these claims. According to a research paper jointly published in January 2017 by scientists from two major American universities, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes lead anyone, especially teenagers, to eventually smoke combustible cigarettes.

The University of Michigan and University of Buffalo vaping study

Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Buffalo combined forces this year in a newly released e-cig study entitled, Adolescents and e-cigarettes: Objects of concern may appear larger than they are.  The findings are published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence for the entire world to see.

Yet public health officials like U.S. Attorney General Vivek Murthy continue to spread misinformation about vaping on an almost continuous basis.  In another controversial article published just days ago in the online medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, Murthy makes the astonishingly false claim that electronic cigarettes “are now the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in the United States, surpassing cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars, and hookah.”

In a recent press release, Dr. Lynn Kozlowski, Professor of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo and one of the co-authors of the January study, implies that these types of misleading statements by public officials is essentially hurting rather than helping overall public health.

“…Many studies use misleading measures for what is actually considered smoking. ‘Measures of “at least one puff in the past six months” can mean little more than the experimenting vaper was curious how cigarettes compared,” Kozlowski stated.
“Our analysis focused on the risks for moving from e-cigarettes to cigarettes. There is little evidence that those who have never smoked cigarettes or never used other tobacco products and first try e-cigarettes will later move on to cigarette usage with great frequency or daily, regular smoking.”

Virginia Commonwealth University weighs in on vaping controversy

Kozlowski’s study is further supported by a similar, long-term research survey conducted by researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) just last December.  In the VCU study, the scientists followed some 3,757 college freshmen for an entire year to determine if e-cig use at the baseline led to either trying a tobacco cigarette at some point in the future or to perhaps developing a consistent, daily habit of smoking.  Only six of those thousands of students switched from vaping to regular smoking.

“The evidence from the prospective studies is weak at best.  All that it demonstrates is that there is a connection between kids who vape and future experimentation with smoking. But we know that these kids are different from those who do not vape. Even if there is a small gateway effect, it is totally swamped by the overall trend toward less and less smoking.
-Kenneth Warner, Co-Author of the University of Buffalo study as reported to WKBM News

Even though the scientific community continues to release study after study discounting the claims made by public health officials like the U.S. Attorney General, misinformation is still being released from government agencies on a regular basis.  For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report that also condemns vaping as a gateway to youth smoking.   But in the UK, the Royal College of Physicians essentially encourages the use of e-cigs as an effective smoking cessation tool.

Even though there is lots of conflicting information regarding vaping as a gateway to smoking, there are signs that the medical community are finally starting to jump on board the vaping bandwagon.  In a recent survey published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2016, some 57.8 percent of practicing physicians are now recommending e-cigs to patients trying to quit smoking.  At least, that’s a step in the right direction…for now.

Article Credit: Matt Rowland

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