Vaping has ‘not re-normalised’ tobacco smoking among teenagers, says study

‘Fears over a resurgence in youth tobacco smoking because of rise in e-cigarette use are largely unfounded’

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 02 April 2019 09:11 BST
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Increased popularity in vaping has not encouraged more teenagers to take up smoking tobacco cigarettes, a new study has found.

Over the past few years, vaping has become a popular practice among people trying to quit smoking.

According to the NHS, an estimated 2.9 million adults in the UK currently use e-cigarettes, more than half of which have completely stopped smoking tobacco cigarettes.

However, according to researchers, the rising number of young people using e-cigarettes over the past few years has not led to increased interest in tobacco smoking, as some may assume.

Experts from Cardiff University carried out a study of almost a quarter of a million teenagers aged between 13 and 15 from England, Wales and Scotland to determine whether there is a link between vaping and tobacco smoking.

For the study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, the team assessed data gathered from national surveys conducted between 1998 and 2015.

The researchers stated that the surveys were conducted at the same time as the "unregulated growth of e-cigarette use" between 2011 and 2015.

In 1999, 70 per cent of those surveyed said it was "OK" to try a tobacco cigarette.

This percentage had fallen to 27 per cent 16 years later.

Furthermore, in 1998, 60 per cent of the teenagers said they had smoked before, in comparison to 19 per cent in 2015.

The percentage of regular smokers among the 13 to 15-year-olds also fell from 19 per cent to five per cent in the same time period.

The authors of the study explain that their analyses "provide little evidence that re-normalisation of youth smoking was occurring during a period of rapid growth and limited regulation of e-cigarettes from 2011 to 2015".​

Dr Graham More, from the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement, adds the study should dispel some of the worries surrounding youth tobacco smoking.

"These findings suggest that fears over a resurgence in youth tobacco smoking because of the rise in e-cigarette use are largely unfounded to date," Dr Moore says.

Dr Moore adds that a "close eye" must be kept to investigate how e-cigarettes affect the younger generation.

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Another recent study conducted by OnePoll found that individuals who quit smoking and opt for e-cigarettes instead could save an average of £346 a year.

The research was commissioned by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA).

John Dunne, a director of the UKVIA, says he hopes the study will "educate the wider public about the differences between vaping and smoking".

In December, Public Health England launched a campaign to encourage more smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, saying that vaping is 95 per cent safer than smoking.

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