A study* that strongly opposes the theory that e-cigarettes are dangerous for the youth has recently been published. This study totally discredits the report of former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy that was published in 2016.
At the time, Murthy’s publication had caused panic. And vaping opponents had gained momentum. The fears that e-cigarettes were harmful for the youth led to tax increases and stricter regulations on vaping products. But the study that was published in September 2017 in Harm Reduction totally opposes Murthy’s conclusions. The study relies on 3 main arguments.
An increasing vaping use that remains incidental
The study agrees with Murthy on the fact that between 2011 and 2015, there was a strong increase of the number of young people who tried vaping. However, the authors underline that it’s also important to look at the frequency of use. Indeed, the vaping use among the youth remains incidental, and even experimental. According to the National Survey on Tobacco Use, only 0.6% of middle-school students and 2.5% of high school students had vaped in the past 20 days when they were surveyed.
A lack of nicotine
Murthy’s other argument was that most e-cigarettes included nicotine, thus representing a true risk for young people. This molecule is known for creating strong addictions and can impede the brain’s development. However, a 2015 study has showed that most students use e-cigarettes with no nicotine.
Decreasing youth tobacco use figures
Murthy’s report was clearly against vaping. He actually believed that youth vaping would automatically lead to youth smoking. Therefore, the use of e-cigarettes among the youth would necessarily mean that youth tobacco use figures would go up. But recent figures and data have shown that there is no link between the increase of e-cigarette sales and increase of youth tobacco use.
This 2017 study thus shows how important it is to correctly analyze and interpret scientific data. The main goal is of course to provide the public with clear and relevant information.
Finally, searchers agree on the fact that e-cigarettes sales should be restricted to minors. But smoking adults that wish to use e-cigarette to reduce their tobacco use should not be penalized.
* A critique of the US Surgeon General’s conclusions regarding e-cigarette use among youth and young adults in the United States of America
Riccardo Polosa, Christopher Russell, Joel Nitzkin and Konstantinos E. Farsalinos
Harm Reduction Journal – 2017