Rationality from UK ASH

The Guardian reports:

Experimentation with e-cigarettes is rising among 11- to 18-year-olds in Britain but is most common among those who already smoke or who have done in the past, according to anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash).

It says results from its third annual online survey of young people’s attitudes to e-cigarettes suggest that it is “unlikely” they are currently acting as a gateway to tobacco.

So what did they find?

Although 10% of nearly 2,300 surveyed for Ash by YouGov in March said they had tried e-cigarettes “once or twice”, up from 4% two years ago, regular use remained rare.

Kids experiment.

Only 2.4% said they used them at least once a month and almost all were young people who said they had been, or were still, regular tobacco smokers. The increases in use have happened as regular tobacco smoking by 11- to 15-year-olds has dropped to a low of 3%.

That’s good. No one under 18 should smoke.

Authors of the journal report, though it only covers the first two surveys, also express concerns at the increasing proportion of young people perceiving e-cigarettes to be as hazardous as tobacco ones. This, it warns, may reduce numbers of young people “willing to try and/or use what is evidently a much less hazardous source of nicotine”.

Hazel Cheeseman, director of policy at Ash, said: “These results should reassure the public that electronic cigarettes are not linked with any rise in young people smoking. Although more young people are trying electronic cigarettes and many more young people are aware of them, this has not led to widespread regular use or an increase in smoking.”

Those who campaign against e-cigarettes are campaigning against a product exponentially less harmful than smoking. The UK version of ASH gets this. They see e-cigarettes as part of the solution, not part of the problem. Can we say the same their counterparts in NZ?

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