Data released yesterday by Action on Smoking and Health (UK) show that although electronic cigarette use is widespread and increasing among youth, it has not resulted in regular use among a substantial proportion of youth and among nonsmokers, there are very few regular users.
Specifically, the survey of 2,000 11-18 year-olds in 2014 found that:
"Only 1.8% of children are regular users; 90% of regular or occasional
users are young people who are already smokers or ex-smokers; 91% of young people have not tried an electronic cigarette even once; and this is despite the fact that over 80% of young people are now aware of e-cigarettes (up from under 70% in 2013)."
Overall, ASH reported that "98% of children who have never smoked have
never even tried an electronic cigarette."
The Rest of the Story
This study confirms that in the UK, despite substantial experimentation with e-cigarettes by youth, this experimentation does not appear to be leading to regular e-cigarette use by a large proportion of youth, and those who are regular users are overwhelmingly youth who are already smokers or who smoked in the past.
In other words, there appears to be strong evidence that in the UK, electronic cigarette use is not serving as a gateway by which nonsmokers are becoming addicted to nicotine and then progressing to real cigarette smoking.
These data cast further doubt on the statements made by CDC officials and a number of tobacco control researchers, who have publicly concluded that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.
Unquestionably, there is still the need to regulate the sale and marketing of electronic cigarettes to minors. Sadly, and ironically, the only ones who seem to oppose laws to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors are the supposedly "anti-smoking" groups.
Similar data from the U.S. would be very helpful. But unlike prior reports, these ones should quantify not only experimentation, but also regular use, stratified by prior status as smokers versus nonsmokers.