The rise in recent years of teen e-cigarette use has worried many who fear that kids will skip cigarettes but get addicted to nicotine through vaping. But now new data shows that teen vaping rates are already on the decline, and smoking rates for the age group are staying low as well. This could mean that vaping is working to curb smoking rates without providing a new addictive habit.
Recent research indicates that vaping is not as addictive as smoking in the first place, and there is no evidence that vaping leads to smoking cigarettes, despite claims to the contrary by many anti-vaping groups. It is believed that teens who don’t smoke might choose to vape because they have heard that vaping is safer. Vaping is safer than smoking, but there is universal agreement that non-smokers and young people especially should not take up vaping as a hobby. But the reality is that there are teens who are prone to smoke, meaning that they want to smoke and will smoke despite laws and vast knowledge of the dangers of cigarettes. If such kids are choosing to vape instead, that is better for than health than choosing combustible cigarettes.
And now the evidence indicates that such kids are not getting hooked on vaping.
According to a report published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 3 million teens used e-cigarettes in 2015 but that number went down to 2.2 million in 2016. For high school kids the rate went from 16 percent in 2015 down to only 11 percent in 2016. That is a significant drop, and many believe information campaigns about the potential dangers of vaping are the reason for it.
It is better for teens and children not to use nicotine at all because the drug can have a negative effect on developing brains. Though vaping is less harmful to a young person than smoking is, it is important that young people are discouraged from vaping (with the one exception being cases where a child or teen is already a cigarette smoker.) The vape industry has always discouraged vaping for anyone under the age of 18, and has self-imposed restrictions on sales to minors. The anti-vaping sentiments commonly expressed in the media are often fraught with misinformation and unproven claims, but if a message is getting across to youth that no smoking and no vaping is
the best policy, that is a good thing.
The problem with the anti-vaping sentiment is that it fails to recognize the importance of vaping as an option for people who already smoke. One group that is pleased with the report on the teen vaping rate drop is the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. This organization is no fan of vaping, and is guilty of spreading misinformation and lobbying for restrictive laws to prevent vaping products from being available to smokers. The president of CTFK told the Washington Post that the drop in teen vaping rates is “extraordinary progress.” While that is true, there is still a problem of teens who are actually smoking cigarettes. Groups like CTFK work against the health of such kids by refusing to see the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes to kids who already addicted to smoking.