Study rubbishes theory vapes get youngsters hooked on nicotine

You’ve all heard the one about vaping getting young people hooked on nicotine, right? Well, if a new study’s anything to go by, there’s a good chance that theory is just a load of hot air!

That’s right, according to research carried out by the University of East Anglia, not only are flavoured vapes much less harmful to young people than combustible tobacco products, but rather than encouraging youths to take up smoking they actually help many young people kick the habit.

To be fair, this is hardly ground-breaking news as many of us knew this already, however we always welcome new evidence proving the efficacy of vaping as a stop-smoking aid – especially when that evidence also tackles the much parroted and already-debunked theory that flavoured vapes lead to young people taking up smoking. 

Let’s take a closer look at the findings…

So what did the research find?

  • Cumulative study looked at more than 500,000 under-18s
  • Flavoured vapes are preferred and may actually help people quit more harmful smoking
  • Study concluded more needs to be done to deter non-smokers from vaping

Examining 58 past studies which monitored a collective 500,000 people, the researchers looked into claims that e-cigarettes act as a gateway to nicotine use for young people which eventually leads to smoking. The aim of the research was to establish whether this theory holds any water.

“There has been a lot of concern that young people may start vaping because they are attracted to e-liquid flavors, and that it could potentially lead them to start smoking tobacco,” said study lead author Caitlin Notley.

“We wanted to find out more about the links between vape flavors, the uptake of vaping among young people, and whether it leads to regular vaping and, potentially, tobacco smoking.”

Contrary to suggestions from the media and figures in the anti-vaping camp that e-cigarettes lure in unsuspecting youngsters who end up smoking, the research team behind the study concluded that in reality far more young people use vaping as a means to quit.

“Flavored e-liquids are an important aspect of vaping that young people enjoy. This suggests that flavored products may encourage young people to switch away from harmful tobacco smoking towards less harmful vaping,” Notley added.

Importantly, the team of researchers also found that while flavoured e-liquids played a big part in encouraging people to quit tobacco products, they found nothing in the data to suggest the use of these flavoured products leads to young people taking up smoking. 

“Flavors may be an important motivator for e-cigarette uptake, but we found no evidence that using flavored e-liquids attracted young people to go on to take up tobacco smoking.”

Why is this research important?

Unless you’re new to the world of vaping, the theory that flavoured products are designed to get youngsters hooked on nicotine which often leads to them taking up smoking is one you’re probably familiar with. The Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA) and even the World Health Organisation (WHO) have often repeated this accusation, despite a clear lack of evidence to back up the claim.

In fact, not only is there a lack of evidence, but all the evidence we do have suggests the opposite is true, with the number of youths who vape falling over the past 12 months, while the rate of under-18 smokers continues to decline year after year.

Nevertheless, despite the absence of data to prove there’s a “vaping epidemic” among youths, the FDA seems to be leaning towards a blanket ban on flavoured vape products in the U.S, while the WHO continues to push for tighter regulation across the globe.

If these bodies get their way, the only vape products available will be tobacco-flavoured, but the problem with this approach is there’s very little demand for these products, and the vast majority of vapers would prefer flavoured e-liquids. Worryingly, a recent survey found that if flavoured e-liquids were suddenly banned, one in five vapers would return to smoking.

A step in the wrong direction

To deter people from vaping and force 20% of them to take up smoking again as a result of a flavour ban would seem like a massive leap backwards after all the progress that’s been made. 

Studies have established that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, while e-cigarettes have also shown themselves to be by far the most effective stop-smoking aid. With tens of millions of people worldwide now using vaping products – many of them ex-smokers – there’s no denying e-cigarettes have had an extremely positive impact on public health.. 

To throw all that away and watch vast numbers of people return to smoking cigarettes due to the false notion that flavoured vapes are turning our children into smokers would be ludicrous, so evidence like this is essential in fighting this dangerous and nonsensical anti-vaping witch-hunt. 

Vaping products should only be for smokers or ex-smokers

The team behind the study also highlight the importance of deterring people – especially youths – from taking up vaping unless they’re doing so to quit smoking. 

This is something we here at Vapoholic always repeat, as vape products are designed to help people quit smoking. While they’re a much safer alternative to combustible tobacco products, vape products are still not 100% safe, so we’d never encourage anyone who doesn’t smoke to suddenly take up vaping. If you’ve never smoked a cigarette then your best bet is to leave any products containing nicotine well alone.

On the other hand, if you’re a smoker or ex-smoker then switching to e-cigarettes is undoubtedly a positive health choice, and research such as this study merely underlines that fact.

If you’re looking to make the switch and would like some more information, check out our getting started guide. Or if you’re wondering which type of e-liquid to go for, take a look at our e-liquid guide.