There really isn't any evidence to prove that e-cigarettes encourage teenagers to smoke, and even this new research from the university of Leeds doesn't prove it. Even the researchers, according to Reuters, "urged caution in interpreting its results, noting that while e-cigarette use has increased in Britain, rates of smoking have continued to fall".
Despite this, once again the Daily Mail latches on to the story in order to spread more misinformation. I know the British Medical Journal (BMJ) press release didn't help by saying that e-cigarettes may be prompting UK teens to try smoking. But even the BMJ covered itself by saying "may".
Plenty of experts who have researched e-cigarettes offered their opinion. Prof. Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, Queen Mary University of London, said:
"People who drink white wine are more likely to also try red wine than teetotallers and kids who like superhero comics also try superhero films, whether their friends do the same or not. Common sense would not suggest that this shows gateway effects".
Prof. Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology at UCL, said:
“The authors of this study correctly warn readers that it cannot show a causal connection between using and e-cigarette and later smoking. In the UK and the US it seems unlikely that e-cigarette use by young people is causing more of them to smoke because smoking rates in this age group now are declining at least as fast as they were before e-cigarettes started to become popular.”
Yet despite this, Alexandra Thompson, health reporter for the Daily Mail Online, wanted to make sure she got as many clicks as possible in order to justify her existence. Here are the bullet points below the headline of, "E-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking for teenagers: One-third light up a year after they start vaping".
- Of those who do not use cigarettes but do vape, 34.4 per cent smoke a year later
- This is compared to only nine per cent who did not previously use e-cigarettes
- Occasional smokers are nearly twice as likely to increase their habit if they vape
- Smoking is more likely among teens whose family and peers indulge in the habit
- Researchers think e-cigarettes may normalise nicotine use, prompting smoking
It's just shoddy, clickbait journalism - if indeed you can call it journalism. As I said in the title, another day, another anti-vaping scare story in the Daily Mail.