Vaping could be a “gateway” to smoking for teenagers, study shows

5 August 2018:

Children who try vaping because it is “cool” could inadvertently become hooked on nicotine and take up smoking, a new study has warned. 

E-cigarettes enable smokers to use nicotine without many of the health effects of smoking regular tobacco products, but the findings show that as many as half of young vapers have never tried a normal cigarette. 

The study raises questions about the lower tax levy placed on e-cigarettes, and the use of sweet flavourings that appeal to younger users. 

Research from Coventry University, where researchers surveyed 499 pupils, shows that less than half of users knew that vape products contain nicotine, and less than half knew that they were addictive. 

40 per cent of regular smokers begin smoking before the age of 16, according to Cancer Research UK, making teenage smoking a key battleground for public health authorities. 

Dr Emmie Fulton, the lead researcher on the Coventry University study, said: “The young people we sampled may use e-cigarettes because they are easier to access than tobacco, and would have gone on to smoke regardless. 

“However they may also represent a group of young people who have no intention of trying cigarettes but could be becoming addicted to nicotine accidentally.

“There’s the potential that this could act as a gateway to smoking and tobacco use for a proportion of the population who would otherwise have remained non-nicotine users.”

Vaping has been hailed as way for smokers to stop smoking tobacco, which has significantly higher health risks. Where conventional products burn tobacco to produce smoke, e-cigarettes propel nicotine with propylene glycerol in a vapour, which is inhaled. As with regular cigarettes, it is illegal in the UK for under-18s to buy e-cigarettes.

In February, Public Health England recommended that e-cigarettes were prescribed on the NHS, alongside nicotine replacement products such as nicotine patches, gum and inhalators.

Source: The Telegraph