We all know that there have been numerous headlines reporting that ecigs lead to teen smoking. The data behind these claims is deeply flawed and the headlines are incredibly misleading. The idea that ecigs lead to teen smoking is an unfounded fear tactic that anti-vaping groups are manipulating in order to create fear in the minds of the general public.
This week the Yale University School of Medicine published the results of an ecig study that have directly contradicted any claims that ecigs lead to teen smoking. That’s just for starters. The Yale ecig study not only eviscerates any notion that ecigs lead to teen smoking, the study showed that ecig bans actually lead to increased teen smoking.
The argument that ecigs leads to teen smoking has been used as a tool to call for oppressive regulation of ecigs and vaping. Currently, the FDA has proposed regulation that will essentially destroy the entire industry and virtually ensure that the only ecigarettes that will be sold will be the Big Tobacco brands. However, a new ecig study conducted by the Yale University School of Public Health not only shatters the myth that ecigs lead to teen smoking the study also shows that banning ecigs will likely lead to an increase in teen smoking.
Right now, teen smoking is at an all-time low. Banning ecigs threatens to undo the progress we have made against teen smoking and send our kids back into the harms way of tobacco cigarettes. This goes to prove what the vaping community has been warning all along, vilifying ecigs drives people right back to smoking.
The Yale ecig study showed that in the states where banning ecig sales to people under 18 has been put into effect, those states have shown an increase in teen smoking vs states without these restrictions. So in effect, by making tobacco more available than ecigs kids from 12 to 17 are smoking cigarettes.
Think about the insanity of it all. On one hand we have a product that experts attest is 95% safer than smoking and on the other side of the coin you have cigarettes that are proven killers. Despite this reality, ecigs face more criticism and opposition than cigarettes. This is like gun activists shifting all of their attention and energy away from assault weapons to focus on banning BB guns.
To be fair, the percentage difference in teen smoking between states that have ecig bans in place vs states that do not is not huge but it should also not be ignored.
The author of the study, Dr. Abigail Friedman, said “Conventional cigarette use has been falling somewhat steadily among this age group since the start of the 21st century. This paper shows that bans on e-cigarette sales to minors appear to have slowed this decline by about 70 percent in the states that implemented them. In other words, as a result of these bans, more teenagers are using conventional cigarettes than otherwise would have done so.”
The last sentence is most telling. Dr. Friedman said that because of ecig bans more teenagers are smoking cigarettes than would have otherwise done so. This is Yale University, one of the most prestigious institutions in the world. Public health officials need to take notice.
Dr. Friedman says that all of the available data indicates that teens typically start smoking at 16. She suggests that ecigs not be sold to anyone under 16 as opposed to 18. This is a controversial position no doubt. The ecig industry generally does not sell to anyone under 18 and perhaps there is reason to reevaluate that position. There is an argument to be made that if ecigs were as accessible to teens as cigarettes are then the inroads that we are making into curbing teen smoking can continue.
“Policy makers have been assuming that banning e-cigarette sales to minors will improve public health. This paper’s finding, that these bans increase conventional cigarette smoking among teens, suggests that we may need to rethink this conclusion,” Dr. Friedman said. Indeed policy makers should be rethinking their position on ecigs. It’s time to get serious about addressing tobacco harm in our society and recognizing that vaping is the best asset that we have ever had in our arsenal to combat smoking. The war on ecigs is putting our children’s lives at risk as well as risking the lives of the millions of Americans still struggling with an addiction to smoking.