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The evidence, according to anti-vape campaigners, just keeps piling up. They are correct, in a way, but just not how they believe. We are constantly being warned that vaping is a gateway to smoking – and that non-smokers need to be protected. Our anecdotal evidence says differently, we know it helped us quit smoking and we also know how awful cigarettes taste after having vaped for a few months. In case you get drawn into an argument, here’s what research has said about it recently.
In consecutive weeks of the New Year, three papers have been published that deal with the subject of a gateway effect. The first, published in the Addictive Behaviours journal, is called Electronic cigarette use and uptake of cigarette smoking: A longitudinal examination of U.S. college students.
Although the study discovered that there is an increased likelihood of vaping teens going on to experiment with cigarettes, it revealed the simple truth that teens vaping does not mean they go on to become full-time smokers: “Current e-cigarette users at baseline were no more likely to progress to current smoking than young adults who were not using e-cigarettes.”
It’s the weakest of the three studies, but it still confirms that vaping is no predictor of future smoking behaviour. The second offers much stronger affirmation, and comes from The Centre for Substance Use Research in Scotland.
Visible Vaping: E-Cigarettes and the Further De-Normalization of Smoking was published in the International Archives of Addiction Research and Medicine.
96% of the young people taking part in the study were able to distinguish between vaping devices and traditional tobacco cigarettes, and expressed absolutely no desire to smoke. Is there a gateway? “If anything,” said the lead researcher, “the results of this study show the opposite is true. Vaping is making smoking less interesting for non-smokers.”
The third study was conducted in Canada, where public vaping has been under attack. Clearing the Air: A systematic review on the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes and vapour devices is available online from the University of Victoria website.
The researchers were unambiguous in their findings: “There is no evidence of any gateway effect whereby youth who experiment with vapour devices are, as a result, more likely to take up tobacco use. The available evidence is that tobacco use by youth has been declining while use of vapour devices has been increasing”.
One of the two lead researchers went on to add: “Fears of a gateway effect are unjustified and overblown. From a public health perspective, it’s positive to see youth moving towards a less harmful substitute to tobacco smoking’.
There’s only one gateway involved with vaping – and that’s the one-way route away from tobacco smoking.