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E-cigs aren’t a gateway and aren’t going away – it’s time for the anti-vapers to quit


Let’s be honest, for as long as vaping’s been around, there’s been anti-vaping scaremongering. And yet, within the last year, it seems a whole new glut of junky science-quoting bile against vaping has started clogging up the Internet – one cranky claim after another, each of them coming in quick succession. For better or worse, their place of origin isn’t the UK but the US (the former seems somewhat more tolerant of and relaxed about e-cigs compared to the latter) and they tend to be concerned with a trio of ‘issues’, namely the idea vaping’s as bad for you as smoking, that it doesn’t at all aid smokers trying to quit tobacco and that it even operates as a gateway to tobacco smoking.

It’s all baloney, of course, and it’s all been debunked many times over, but anti-vaping obsessives keep making these false claims. And it has to stop. The evidence is that vaping isn’t anywhere near as unhealthy an activity of smoking, it does help smokers to quit and it isn’t a gateway. It genuinely plays a positive, effective role for smokers looking to quit and those striving to remain tobacco-free and, as such, is doing a good job. All this anti-vaping propaganda doesn’t just challenge this, but threatens to undo all the good work achieved thus far – and what can be achieved in future.

Argument and counter-argument

Indeed, as recently as July, a study that appeared in the quasi-journal Tobacco Control and supposedly by academics at the University of Michigan in the US claimed outright that, for teenagers, vaping leads directly to tobacco smoking – and this was subsequently reported widely across the media and Internet. But it’s just the latest instance. The eminent Royal College of Physicians has more than once pointed out the tobacco-quitting qualities of e-cigs purchased from a vape shop (online or otherwise), yet more and more ‘researcher activists’ across the pond claim the exact opposite – some screaming that they’re even a gateway to crack cocaine! In actual fact, smoking rates among US youths have dropped in recent years, yet the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seemingly oblivious to compelling data, entirely refute this.

As to the aforementioned July study, its data was drawn from just 347 high-schoolers, with its headline claim based on their answers to the question of whether or not they’d tried vaping in the last 30 days or tried smoking in the last 12 months. Based on what they gleaned from this – comparing their 2015 results to their 2014 results – they concluded the numbers were higher for 2015 and that, therefore, vaping is a ‘one-way bridge to smoking’. To say this is over-interpreting their survey’s findings is putting it very mildly – after all, their initial set of test subjects was particularly small (just 347 teens, remember) and it’s hardly surprising that, between one year and the next, teens – especially in such small numbers – may try vaping and smoking more… precisely because they’re teens; they experiment! This then, in no way whatsoever, despite however many tabloid and click-bait headlines it generated, proves vaping is a gateway for teens to tobacco smoking.

Compelling evidence

Indeed, there’s good, hard evidence out there that proves the exact opposite – vaping is more likely to cause smoking reduction among those willing to try it. How do we know this? Because at the same time as there’s more and more vaping experimentation by teenagers, there’s an undeniable – or at least it should be undeniable – decrease in teenagers smoking; a decrease that may even be accelerating. Just one source that’s proved this is the US National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), its research conducted from 2012-14 discovering that e-cig use jumped by more than 10 percent (2.8 percent to 13.4 percent). If this is the case, why isn’t tobacco smoking among youths rising too? Why, by contrast, is it falling sharply?

In short then, anti-vaping activists are getting increasingly desperate trying to disprove the health-aiding benefits of vaping – and this means they’re making ever more grandiose claims that are generating scaremongering headlines, despite the evidence overwhelmingly pointing to the contrary. It’s obsessive and nonsensical. And it isn’t just wrong; it’s dangerous. The anti-vaping propaganda has to stop – whoever’s producing it and wherever they are, they need to quit now.

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