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New Studies: Vaping May Help Smokers, Not Encourage Tobacco Use

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We round out 2018’s blogs with two new studies that give vapers and vaping advocates hope for the future.

First, we tackle the claim that vaping is a gateway to smoking, not the other way around. An op-ed by Quartz outlined a new study that proves just the opposite, that vaping — especially amongst teens — over time has not led to smoking. In, fact, smoking’s numbers have shown to fall at the same rate as before e-cigarettes came around. Vaping, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, became popular around 2011 with U.S.-based teenagers under 18. Arguments since that time have ranged from the gateway effect to the vaping epidemic in our youth, etc. But, in November 2018, U.S., Canadian and Australian researchers published a new review in the journal Tobacco Control “showing that major surveys conducted between 2004 and 2017 do not indicate that vaping among U.S. teens does not lead to smoking,” Quartz reported. “If our primary concern is population-level trends in youth and young adult smoking, which we believe is appropriate, then vaping has not shown to be a serious cause for concern,” the authors wrote. “It is possible that vaping may be playing a contributing role to the recent steep declines in youth and young adult smoking.”

Researchers in this study took data from five surveys distributed among teenagers and adults under the age of 26, according to Quartz: the Monitoring the Future Survey, the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, and the National Health Interview Survey. The general trend throughout showed that since 2014, when vaping really hit the market, analog smoking rates have declined at a fast rate, but there isn’t necessarily a correlation between the rise in vaping and a decrease in smoking.

The next study in our feel good end-of-year piece comes from researchers who posted at the end of November in the Drug and Alcohol Review. After conducting a survey of 40 people who quit smoking by vaping, researchers suggest that vaping may help smokers avoid relapsing back into analogs.

UPI reports that half of the respondents said they had “brief or regular tobacco smoking relapses, particularly in social situations.” However, they didn’t go into full relapses back into smoking. Lead Researcher Caitlin Notley of the University of East Anglia in England said in a news release that now “the difference is that for some vapers [in this study], the odd cigarette was thought of as being 'allowed.' For others, an unintentional cigarette made them even more determined to maintain abstinence in the future. Either way, it didn’t necessarily lead to a full relapse back into smoking.”

Researchers went even further to say that vaping “not only helps people quit smoking, but also can help prevent long-term smoking relapse.”