ASH on youth and e-cigarettes

Stuff reports:

Vaping may not be the gateway to cigarette smoking as was once feared, according to New Zealand’s largest smoking survey. 

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) canvassed more than 26,000 Year 10 students from across the country and found that only 2 per cent used electronic cigarettes, also known as vaporisers, daily. 

While that figure had risen from 1 per cent in 2015, the study’s manager said there was good reason for that.

“E-cigarette use by Year 10 students is increasing, but slowly and [it is] largely confined to students who already smoke,” said Boyd Broughton from ASH.

The research found less than 1 per cent of daily vapers were people who had never smoked cigarettes before.

That is useful and reassuring research. E-cigarettes are not without harm. They are far far less harmful that cigarettes. But if non-smokers were taking up e-cigarettes that would be concerning and if they were a gateway to smoking even more concerning.

But the ASH survey shows the opposite. That people transition from cigarettes to e-cigarettes (reducing harm) rather than vice-versa.

Whereas students who already smoked daily were more than 25 times more likely to use e-cigarettes every day than thier non-smoking peers. 

“There is a huge moral panic about young people taking up vaping, and even going on to smoke. These results don’t support that at all,” Broughton said.

“Never smokers might try a puff on a friend’s e-cigarette, but they are very unlikely to become a daily user.”


Meanwhile, the number of Year 10 pupils who said they were regular or daily cigarette smokers has dropped from about 25 percent in 2001, to about 5 per cent in 2017.

“Young people take risks, and whilst we can never stop experimentation altogether, trying an e-cigarette is a much better option that trying a cigarette, and one that appears less likely to lead to smoking.”

Good to see ASH taking a sensible approach on this.

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