Are e-cigarettes a path to teen smoking?
You might have come across the results of a new study entitled « E-Cigarette Use and Subsequent Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis« . This study will be published in the JAMA Pediatrics Journal. It relies on the review of published studies regarding teen vaping and teen smoking.
According to the authors, the results showed there was “strong and consistent evidence of greater risk between initial e-cigarette use and subsequent cigarette smoking initiation”.
We were honestly quite surprised about the results of this study because almost at the same time, another study led by Professor Bertrand Dautzenberg on the use of e-cigarettes by young people was published in the European Network for Smoking and Tobacco Prevention. And its conclusions were quite different. E-cigarette use does not lead to a higher tobacco use among young people. Cross-sectional studies were conducted among young people in France, the UK and the US. They showed that e-cigarette use was especially important among smokers and ex-smokers. But there was a low rate of regular use among experimenters. More generally speaking, a decrease in tobacco consumption was observed.
And there is more. An American survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that we talked about in one of our articles has clearly shown that the rate of cigarette smoking among high school students has continued to decrease in 2016 (see f
igure below). This decline seems to point towards a lack of evidence of a gateway effect for e-cigarettes.
The development of e-cigarettes has also coincided with reductions in marijuana or opioids use rates among the youth. And e-cigarettes could be making it easier for smoking teens to quit. Or it could be preventing young people from ever starting to smoke cigarettes. Michael Siegel, professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, was quite adamant. He wrote that the new survey “should put to rest the contention that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking among youth.”
We fully understand that many public health actors can fear that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to tobacco use. But we hope these latest studies and survey will help reassure you, our administration and governments about e-cigarettes.