The debate revolving around potential electronic cigarette policies is controversial at the least. There are hundreds of contrasting articles and opinions from both sides of the debate, at times making it hard to understand what is true and what is not.
Those who oppose vaping do so in hopes of reducing youth access in fear of addicting a new generation, while those who support vaping do so in hopes of maintaining availability for adults because evidence suggests that electronic cigarettes are an incredibly effective smoking cessation tool.
To put it simply, the opposition would like to see flavors banned entirely while the supporters would like to see age restrictions that would make it near impossible for youth to access.
As mentioned earlier, it is sometimes difficult to sort out the false evidence from the truthful evidence. The best thing you can do when researching this heated topic, as with any topic, is to search for credible sources.
When you search for credible sources you immediately eliminate any possibility of receiving false or misleading information.
In an article published in the British Medical Journal related to Tobacco Control, researchers studied 2 “longitudinal studies” to examine the youth correlation between vaping and smoking cigarettes.
Before we dive into what these researchers found, we will outline a few key notes that were outlined in the paper.
- Some teens who have tried vaping and then cigarettes would have tried smoking anyway based off of the “common liability to experiment with substance use.”
- While its possible that vaping MAY increase the chances of a young person to start smoking cigarettes because of the similarities between the two, it is not known if that young person would have tried smoking cigarettes without the introduction to electronic cigarettes.
- These studies were conducted in a time and place where there were no age restrictions on vaping products, so it is a possibility that age restriction policies may change any patterns.
- The statistics of young people who regularly vape or smoke remains low and appears to be decreasing.
As stated before, the supporters of electronic cigarettes view them as incredible smoking cessation tools. The evidence supplied in these studies also supports this viewpoint. It was found that smokers who had smoked in the past year who tried and used electronic cigarettes had 60% greater odds of successfully quitting when compared to those who used Nicotine Replacement Therapies.
Nicotine Replacement Therapies are products such as patches, gums, and nasal sprays. These products are designed specifically to help curb the nagging nicotine urge associated with regular cigarette use.
Furthermore, a study conducted between 2014 and 2015 by the Current Population Survey Tobacco Use Supplement found that adult smokers who used electronic cigarettes for at least 3 months regularly were more likely to successfully quit when compared to non users.
It was also found that daily vaping for at least 1 month increased smoking cessation odds by at least 6 times.
It was stated in the report that “Increasing quitting among adult smokers is vital to reducing smoking prevalence and will result in much faster declines than relying only on reducing youth uptake.” This quote is striking because it accurately represents the viewpoint of many electronic cigarette users.
An overall ban of products could be detrimental in a number of ways. If products are banned entirely it could massively set back the ultimate goal of weeding the largest possible amount of adult smokers off of cigarettes and on to less harmful products such as electronic cigarettes.
Available surveys show us that there is overwhelming support from both electronic cigarette users and electronic cigarette companies to create a policy that will allow ONLY adults to have access to purchasing electronic cigarette products. This would allow users and potential future users to have availability to a variety of appealing flavors and products.
A solution such as this, that maintains availability among adults, would still allow current smokers to experience increased cessation odds.
In the end, the numbers of youth smoking between 2011 and 2016 have been declining steadily. During that time period Ever Use, or usage of cigarettes (even one puff), declined from 6.3% to 4.3% among middle school students and from 21.8% to 13.8% among high school students in the USA.
It is a possibility that electronic cigarettes may have a hand in these decreasing numbers, so it will continue to be important to monitor youth electronic cigarette behaviors.
In life, you can choose to ignore facts and live close minded or you can choose to understand both sides of an argument and form a factual based opinion.
The publication reiterates this philosophy by this ending statement “In determining how we respond to research on youth vaping and smoking, we need to consider the whole population (youth and adults) and longer term goals, such as a cigarette endgame. The goal of policy making should be to achieve the optimal regulatory balance that reduces any potential risks that vaping products may pose to young non-smokers while maximizing the potential benefit that access to these products could provide to current smokers.”