Study Suggests E-Cigarettes Are Not a Gateway to the Conventional Kind


The activists and politicians pushing for strict regulation of electronic cigarettes claim to be thinking of the children, who supposedly are endangered by nicotine delivery devices that may lure them into deadly tobacco habits. Hence e-cigarette alarmists jumped all over CDC survey data indicating that the percentage of teenagers who have tried e-cigarettes doubled (from 3.3 percent to 6.8 percent) between 2011 and 2012. "Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes," CDC Director Tom Frieden worried. But the survey data provided no evidence that e-cigarettes are a gateway to the conventional kind, and a new study casts further doubt on that hypothesis. In a survey of 1,300 college students, a team led by Theodore Wagener, an assistant professor of general and community pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, found that only 43 (3.3 percent) said e-cigarettes were the first form of nicotine they'd tried. Of those, only one (2.3 percent) later started smoking conventional cigarettes. "It didn't seem as though it really proved to be a gateway to anything," said Wagener, who described his results at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

[Thanks to Bill Godshall for the tip.]


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  1. Why has this stupid e-cigarette post infected my ObamaCare blog?

    Surely you could at least have had a tie in by mentioning that users of e-Cigarette will still have to pay 50% more in premiums.
    (On top of the other 50% their premiums increased).

    1. And all this while we’re still mourning over Lou Reed’s death.

      The shame…

  2. What’s the reverse of a gateway drug? They have it exactly ass-backwards.

    1. And “Exit-Ramp” drug?

  3. Grant, arguendo, that some non-trivial percentage of eCig smokers do become nicotine addicts.

    Why would they start smoking real cigarettes?

    eCigs are less ghastly and cheaper (with reusables, at least) than “real cigarettes”.

    I suppose the State could change that, but that would go against the stated notion of being “for public health”; being a nicotine addict without tar and smoke in your lungs isn’t that huge of an issue.

    1. I oppose any attempt by any government to restrict the use of e-cigs or other vaporizers on private property, even if they use “the children” as the excuse for curtailing adults’ liberties yet again.

      It’s a distinct question whether the government should allow people to use vaporizers on public sidewalks and in public parks.

      That would properly be a fact-based inquiry based on how much is emitted from smoking a vaporizer. It seems the vaporizer pens, whether used with tobacco or marijuana wax emit far less than a conventional cigarette/joint and thus would pose far less of an intrusion into the bodies/lungs of people nearby. But that’s just an observation, not a scientific opinion.

      Libertarians should not be oblivious to the fact that individual liberty does not encompass any “right” to make others breathe our preferred substances (poisons to some degree, arguably) on streets and in parks that all taxpayers are forced to pay for and are supposed to be able to use peaceably and equally.

      Probably we’ll conclude that there should be no government restrictions on public or private vape use by adults, and we should err on the side of no restrictions if it’s a close call. But knee-jerk libertarianism isn’t any more logical or attractive than knee-jerk nannyism.

  4. This study is, in fact, quite consistent with the recently released CDC report on youth smoking–although no one would know it, based upon the distortion and manipulation of the data promulgated by CDC’s Tom Frieden and his minions. These folks traipsed around the country and the media telling all who would swallow their line about “teen use of e-cigarettes has DOUBLED….” Anyone delving even slightly into the actual data would find that to be a gross exaggeration: A–teen EXPERIMENTATION increased certainly; B–as would be expected, as the # of e-cigs in the “environment” also doubled–so what? C–the # of kids who vaped regularly was tiny; D–the largest fraction of teen vapers by far were among teens who smoked–cigarettes, that is (e-cig users do NOT smoke, of course–there is no smoke–they “vape”).
    Let’s see how the CDC, FDA, NIH, CTFK, Legacy, ACS, AHA, ALA and Mayo/UCSF handle this curveball which counters their anti-harm reduction mantra.

  5. The FDA is talking about regulation for about 3 years now and I can’t wait to see in what way it’s going to be regulated.

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