New research out of the UK completely refutes the e-cigarette gateway claim by demonstrating that nonsmoking youth who experiment with e-cigarettes are not becoming addicted to vaping and are not even becoming regular e-cigarette users.
According to Cancer Research UK, which funded the study: "Of the 1,205 children aged 11-16 who took part in the new UK-wide
survey, 12 per cent reported that they had tried an e-cigarette. Figures
for regular use were lower with two per cent reporting e-cigarette use
more than monthly and one per cent more than weekly. Regular e-cigarette use was found only in children who also smoked
tobacco. Experimental e-cigarette use among non-smoking children was low
at three per cent." ...
"Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Stirling,
said: 'There’s a common perception that the rise we’ve seen in the use
of electronic cigarettes will lead to a new generation of adults who
have never smoked but are dependent on nicotine. This fear is based on
the expectation that due to the appeal of the products, children who
have never used tobacco will be attracted to e-cigarettes and start to
use them regularly. Our survey is in line with others in the different parts of the UK
that show this is not happening. Young people are certainly
experimenting with e-cigarettes, some of which do contain nicotine.
However, our data show that at the moment this experimentation is not
translating into regular use.'"
"Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK,
said: 'These data on electronic cigarette use in youth suggests that
e-cigarettes are not serving as a gateway to tobacco. It’s reassuring
that rates of smoking in young people are continuing to fall at a time
when e-cigarette use has been rising.'"
The Rest of the Story
This study demonstrates that at least in the UK, electronic cigarettes are not serving as a gateway to smoking. Moreover, e-cigarette experimentation is not leading to a significant amount of regular e-cigarette use and certainly not to a significant amount of addiction to vaping.
In the U.S., while the CDC has claimed that e-cigarettes are a gateway to addiction and smoking, it has not produced a shred of evidence to support this claim. Furthermore, the CDC has deliberately avoided seeking evidence that might refute the claim by refusing to even ask the question of how often nonsmokers who experiment with e-cigarettes are using these products. The CDC's surveys, at least through 2013, did not inquire about the frequency of e-cigarette use, other than to ask if the youth vaped at least once in the past 30 days. And the CDC has never reported data on frequency of e-cigarette use. Thus, it is possible that most or all of the nonsmokers who the agency claims are addicted to e-cigarettes have only used these products once or a few times in the past month.
While these new data do not prove that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking in the U.S., they do demonstrate that such a phenomenon is not occurring in the UK, and they cast serious doubt on the claims of the CDC and a number of anti-smoking groups and advocates that e-cigarettes are, as the CDC stated, condemning many teens "to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes."