Smoking by Teenagers Continues to Fall As Vaping Continues to Rise


Yesterday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released survey data that show cigarette smoking by teenagers continued to fall last year even as their use of electronic cigarettes continued to rise. Between 2011 and 2013, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the prevalence of "current" (past-month) cigarette smoking among high school students fell from 15.8 percent to 12.7 percent, while the prevalence of current e-cigarette use tripled from 1.5 percent to 4.5 percent. This is not what you would expect to see if the rising popularity of e-cigarettes stimulated demand for the conventional kind, as CDC officials repeatedly have warned might happen.   

National Youth Tobacco Survey

Last year, for instance, CDC Director Tom Frieden said "many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes." In April he worried that e-cigarettes will "get another generation of kids more hooked on nicotine and more likely to smoke cigarettes." A month later Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, condemned the marketing of e-cigarettes as an "egregious experiment" on "our children."

The CDC's discussion of the latest data is a bit more restrained. "Although the long-term impact of e-cigarette use on public health overall remains uncertain," says an article in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "the 2014 Surgeon General's report found that nicotine use can have adverse effects on adolescent brain development; therefore, nicotine use by youths in any form (whether combustible, smokeless, or electronic) is unsafe." Maybe so, but some kinds of nicotine use—in particular, the ones that involve inhaling tobacco smoke—are decidely more unsafe than others. If teenagers who otherwise would be smoking are vaping instead, that should count as a public health improvement. In any case, the unverified risk that e-cigarettes might serve as a "gateway" to smoking should not be accepted as a valid reason for restricting adult smokers' access to a product that can dramatically reduce the health hazards they face.

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  1. If teenagers who otherwise would be smoking are vaping instead, that should count as a public health improvement.

    Why consider the lesser of two evils when we can simply ban both things?

    1. Ban all oral fixations. You’d get team red and team blue support, albeit for different reasons.

    2. Do we ban everything that might not be good for us? bacon? alcohol? caffeine? You have a reason account, are you libertarian or just trolling?

      Let’s do a thought experiment… we have two products – one has been shown to kill hundreds of thousands a year and is used by millions. The second product can be used effectively to replace the first, and has not been shown to have killed a single person. I have a great idea – let’s ban the second one before it has a chance to help the addicted users of the first product! BRILLIANT!

  2. Just shows how little these “experts” know about vaping. Firstly, most vapists don’t use either tobacco flavored eliquid nor nicotene. Those that do use nicotene are NEVER going to get hooked because so little gets into the bloodstream – vaping is a terrible way to get nicotene into your bloodstream – use nicotene gum if you want that. BUT, if vaping WAS a good way to get nicotene into your system, why on earth would that entice a vapist to use cigarettes to accomplish the same thing? The logic is stupid. Most vapists want to avoid cigarettes – that’s why they are vaping in the first place. And don’t call them e cigarettes – they are personal vapers, thank you.

    1. If vaping was a terrible way to get nicotine into the bloodstream, I’d expect vaping would be a lot less popular.

      Part of the appeal is that it gives you a good nicotine hit without all the crap.

      Anecdotal experience. After my first vaping experience I never went back to the ‘real thing’ I prefer menthol (without tobacco) flavorings.

  3. Is poking in decline too, or does that correlation no longer hold?

  4. My personal observation – admittedly more anecdone than data, but still – is that I see more young people smoking than I recall seeing in the 1970’s.

    My personal suspicion is that an all time low percentage of teens trust those in authority over them enough to tell them anything much.

    So, good news all around.

  5. I smoked between 1 and 2 packs a day for about 30 years. Tried to quit a couple times. I started vaping and 2 days later never wanted another cigarette again.

    Who has the most to lose if the trend continues? Tobacco companies? Pharmaceutical companies? Governments that get tax revenue from cigarettes?

    I predict, they won’t try to ban it. They’ll try to tax it.

  6. Good cause smoking is just downright bad for you.


  7. My roomate’s aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    You can try this out. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  8. Under age smoking has long been a reality that has seen great reduction in the previous 2 years. Be it vaping as the cause or quitting entirely, we should be encouraged by the reduction.
    I am a 30 year smoker who has not had a tobacco cigarette for 8 months, 13 days. All because of vaping. I had tried several times to quit, all failures until vaping was available. My doctor approves and recommends vaping over tobacco if you must.
    Youth who start vaping as opposed to cigarettes have less impact on their lungs. Harmful chemicals are kept to a minimum.
    I would much rather the youth of today not use anything, but vaping (6mg) is one alternative.

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