Newly released data from the Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England - 2014 survey show that although 22% of youth ages 11-15 have experimented with electronic cigarettes, only 3% are now regular vapers and none of these regular vapers are never smokers. In the survey, regular vaping was defined as using an e-cigarette at least once per week.
The Rest of the Story
While one cannot extrapolate from these data to the situation in the U.S., they do demonstrate that at least in England, e-cigarettes are not particularly addictive and they are not serving as a gateway to smoking among youth. Despite the high rate of e-cigarette experimentation, only a small proportion of these youth experimenters are going on to become regular vapers. And of these regular vapers, none are kids who never smoked cigarettes. Thus, there is little, if any, evidence that e-cigarette experimentation among youth in England is causing public health harm. If anything, e-cigarettes may be deterring some youth from continued smoking.
This hypothesis is further supported by the finding that youth smoking in England dropped to its lowest level since the survey began in 1982, despite the dramatic increase in e-cigarette experimentation in recent years.
Despite the definitive statements of CDC and other anti-smoking groups and advocates about e-cigarettes being a gateway to youth smoking, there remains no evidence to support that contention and a growing body of evidence refutes it.
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