Is the electronic cigarette a gateway drug to tobacco? In the last few years, anti-vaping activists have often brought up this argument, especially in the United States. A French study has just rejected this pernicious myth.
The Program to Limit Teenage Tobacco Addiction (PETAL) was launched in 2017, a two-year INSERM study that focuses on the relationship between teenagers and tobacco. The Cancer League has funded this new research project.
Promising initial results have just been made public: the study shows that 52% of 17 year olds in France have already tried vaping, and 59% have already tried cigarettes. The most notable figure, however, is that vaping does not seem to lead teenagers towards smoking tobacco—and in fact it may be the opposite!
A question of occasional vaping
The study also shows that only 2% of young people vape every day. For most, it is only an occasional hobby. This numbers also shows that more young men than women tend to vape, and that 63% of young vapers are smokers first.
The PETAL project clearly demonstrates that young people smoke first, and then try vaping, completely contradicting the fear that many anti-vaping advocates put forth. The cigarette, which is far more dangerous to public health, is the gateway towards vaping, not the other way around.
In France, at least, the argument that vaping leads young people to smoke cigarettes is false. Indeed, this myth, often cited by the FDA in the United States, has never been supported or proven by public health authorities.