Smoking Falls as Vaping Rises Among Teens

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Various studies and surveys have shown that smoking among teens is at a record low while e-cigarette use is at an all-time high.

From 2011 to 2014, teens who smoked dropped significantly, from 16 percent to 9 percent. While the past year saw the number of adolescents who used e-cigarettes triple, up to 13 percent.

But, there are some who think that vaping is a gateway to smoking. However, a review in the journal Addiction states that “Regular use of e-cigarettes by non-smokers is rare, and no migration from e-cigarettes to smoking has been documented.” If vaping were a gateway to smoking, then numbers would show an increase in both. Save for one report in Poland where smoking and vaping rose together, in other countries, vaping rose while smoking fell.

Teens who were surveyed said that the use of e-cigarettes had become as familiar as tablets. The devices had been embraced as a healthy alternative to smoking. However, the reasons why e-cigarettes became popular are mixed. A large number of students said it was to help them quit smoking cigarettes or marijuana, but others said they just enjoyed the flavors and be part of what’s popular. Even if they never smoked before, some teens took up vaping to “fit in.”

Some teens said this was because vaping was a chance for them to do something edgy and exciting. These same teens also said they never smoked and don’t plan to start smoking soon because the taste of cigarettes is horrible. Besides, “girls think they are gross,” said James, a senior in Virginia.

While there are a few experts who think that vaping is another way of getting kids to get hooked on nicotine, the bright side is that cigarette-use is falling sharply. Scientists all agree that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to smoking, and this trend may be good in the long run. Tobacco use has been the biggest cause preventable deaths in the world, and vaping could help turn this around.

“They’re not a gateway in, and they might be accelerating the gateway out,” David B. Abrams, executive director of the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, an anti-tobacco group, said.

Questions have floated around whether e-cigarettes competed with tobacco products, or if they expanded the market. So far, evidence has suggested that the more people vaped, the less they smoked.