*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Healio.
Previously published data suggesting that people, especially teenagers, who use electronic cigarettes are more likely to start smoking combustible cigarettes may not be accurate, according to findings published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
“The national trends in vaping and cigarette smoking do not support the argument that vaping is leading to smoking,” Lynn T. Kozlowski, PhD, of the School of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Buffalo, said in a press release. “There is little evidence that those who have never smoked cigarettes or never used other tobacco products and first try e-cigarettes will later move on to cigarette usage with great frequency or daily, regular smoking.”
Kozlowski and Kenneth E. Warner, PhD, of the School of Public Health, University of Michigan, wrote that one shortcoming of existing prospective studies is that they use small sample population sizes, which in turn leads to smaller risk.
“The aggregate risk implied by [these] studies is very small. Further — and we consider this very important — the data from large national cross-sectional studies provide no evidence that kids’ use of e-cigarettes is increasing smoking. If anything, those data suggest the opposite,” they wrote.
Although “unpleasant to contemplate,” Kozlowski and Warner also wrote that the public health community and policymakers must weigh the financial pros and cons associated with keeping e-cigarettes on the market for use as a cessation tool vs. the costs that would come from people who transition from e-cigarettes to combustible cigarette smoking.
The researchers also suggested that because many young smokers grew up in an era that largely proclaimed the dangers of traditional smoking, they will not move onto those devices.
“We need to appreciate that growing antismoking sentiment, accompanied and reinforced by more stringent tobacco control policies, is likely to increase the ranks of former smokers in the coming decades,” Kozlowski and Warner wrote. “With smoking cessation rates up in recent years, the odds that a youth who begins smoking now remains a smoker 30 years from now are likely to decline substantially.”