A new CDC report claims to hurt vaping, but the numbers suggest otherwise
As long as parents have been aware of vaping, there has been concern about teens. Many people who are critical of vaping feel that if it were to become widely accepted as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool, it would reverse the decline in teenage smoking rates. Others point out that there is no peer-reviewed evidence to back up those claims, and that these concerns are based on hearsay alone.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report that doesn’t do much to clarify the matter, in fact, it makes this complicated issue even more complex. The study’s conclusion, based on their analysis, is that vaping could potentially serve as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes. What complicates matters is that the numbers presented in the report show that vaping is not actually harming tobacco control efforts. The mixed message between words and numbers has the media confused on how to cover the story.
The CDC’s Report
The report released by the CDC, Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students – United States 2011-2017, works to find answers about how vaping and its rise in popularity has affected the youth. The study was of a survey of almost 140,000 students across the US. The results found that while tobacco use, in general, has been declining over the course of the study, vaping has become the most popular “tobacco product” among teens. Over the course of the study, the rate of high schoolers using tobacco went from 24.2% to 19.6% and in middle schoolers from 7.5% to 5.6%. According to the study, of that 19.6% of high schoolers using tobacco products, 11.7% primarily vaped, along with 3.3% of the 5.6% of middle schoolers surveyed.
The CDC chose to take these numbers and dramatize vaping as the latest public health crisis. Ultimately one that would require stricter regulations on both those who use and run businesses surrounding vaping. They believe that the use of vaporizers by youth will lead them to become cigarette smokers once they grow tired of vaporizers. The gateway effect of vaping to smoking has been researched time and again but there is no evidence to prove it actually exists. While the CDC has chosen to take these numbers and paint a dreadful picture of the dangers of vaping, it is easy to see that these figures actually indicate that in the fight against tobacco we are on the right track.
The same data the CDC interpreted as a growing vaping problem could be used to prove that vaping is helping to mitigate smoking among teens. For one, researchers found vaping to be the most popular “tobacco” product among students, but it doesn’t track how many of those students had been smokers before switching to vaping. It would appear that the high rates of vaping among teens are due to kids who used to smoke now choosing a method that is 95% safer than traditional cigarettes. The CDC’s findings support this. The rates of teens smoking have dropped 8.2% among high schoolers and 2.2% among middle schoolers in only five years. These statistics show that while vaping is on the rise, tobacco is plummeting. If anything, these numbers prove that vaping has increased the rate of decline among adolescents.
Protecting children and teens is always a primary concern. That said there is an exorbitant amount of evidence showing that vaping is an extremely effective harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. People are unwilling to accept vaping as a separate entity from smoking and tobacco use because they don’t understand those benefits. Research likes this proves that vaping ought to be put into a different category than smoking to avoid glossing over these significant differences. We must rebuke biased analysis and support well documented and scientifically unbiased research if we genuinely want to end tobacco use. While vaping is not harmless, it is the best practical way to help smokers end their dependence on tobacco products.
Does vaping prevent or cause more teen smoking? What’s the best way to highlight the crucial differences between vaping and smoking? How do you think we could get more people to support vaping as a smoking cessation tool? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.