“This Prestigious University Finds Few Teens Vape, Even Less Do So Regularly”
Prohibitionist policies targeting vaping have swept across the United States following the misattribution of lung injuries and concerns over teenage vaping. Despite repeated outcries of a teenage vaping epidemic, and the series of regulations laid in its wake, evidence continues to emerge contradicting these claims.
A new study from NYU finds that most teens do not vape, and the few that do don’t do so on a regular basis. These findings help to provide a better understanding of overall teen vaping trends, as well as add to a body of research debunking the oft-purported myth of a so-called teenage vaping “epidemic.”
Members of the industry and community have hailed the results, noting other studies that have shown few teens even try vapor products. Anti-vaping activists decried the findings, stating the study doesn’t align with the current narrative surrounding vaping.
The research falls in line with sentiments from public health scholars and harm-reduction experts, who have long cautioned against the various forms of prohibitionist policies that have been implemented throughout the country. They warn that flavor bans are detrimental to public health by forcing former smokers back to tobacco or to the black market.
Debunking The Myth
A study led by researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health finds most teens do not vape, and even less do so daily. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, finds that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and among the few that do, the majority are not daily users.
Researchers analyzed the results 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey, which asked over 20,000 teenage participants about their use of tobacco and vapor products over the previous 30 days. Their findings help to portray a better understanding of overall teenage vapor use, which can be useful in helping to guide the creation of public policies surrounding vaping.
The authors caution against reactive regulations based on fear and not fact, noting their potential harm to public health. Their sentiments fall in line with those echoed by harm reduction experts and public health scholars, with their findings falling in line with evidence highlighting low teenage vaping rates.
“We need to avoid prohibitionist regulations like banning e-cigarettes—while leaving much more deadly cigarettes and cigars in corner stores—and instead should consider strong enforcement of age 21 sales restrictions. Prohibition creates a black market for vaping products or inadvertently pushes individuals back to smoking tobacco.” said David Abrams, co-author of the study and professor of social and behavior sciences at NYU School of Global and Public Health.
Noting The Truth
The recent study from NYU adds to an expansive body of research debunking claims of a teenage vaping epidemic. Research from Public Health England found as little as 0.1% and 0.5% of teens even try vaping, with far less doing being habitual users.
Public Health experts have been warning against flavor bans and other forms of prohibitionist policy since their initial proposals. In a piece published in the journal Science, a group of renowned public health experts banded together to formally decry blanket bans, noting the lack of evidence of risk surrounding vaping and the possibility of pushing people toward tobacco and the black market.
In fact, there is a wealth of research noting vaping’s efficacy in helping to aid smoking cessation. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping people quit smoking.
Not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation device, but data shows it is also a reduced-harm alternative to tobacco as well. Research from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found that vaping is 93% safer than smoking.
Prohibitionist policies have been repeatedly demonstrated to be detrimental to both society and public health at large. Yet lawmakers continue to opt for their implementation with little scientific basis to do so.
These policies in regards to vaping may force former smokers back to tobacco, all while creating an environment for a new unregulated black-market to thrive. Despite this, flavor bans and other restrictions are being enacted en masse across the country.
Members of the vaping industry and community must engage in a campaign of sustained civic engagement and informed public discourse. Helping people understand the benefits of vaping and the potential risks of banning it may help to steer the overall narrative surrounding vaping.
What are your thoughts on this study on teenage vaping trends? How do you think these findings will influence public policy going forward? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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