Vaping

The Upside of Teen Vaping

|

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which responded to an "epidemic" of underage vaping by imposing restrictions on sales of flavored e-cigarettes, admits the policy may deter adult smokers from making a switch that could save their lives. According to the FDA, the price is worth paying to prevent teenagers from using e-cigarettes. But that goal is itself questionable on public health grounds.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who announced the flavor restrictions four months before he revealed that he'd be leaving the agency in April, said he worried that vaping might be a gateway to smoking. Yet there is little evidence of that.

A study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in January, based on a sample of 12,000 12- to 17-year-olds who were surveyed on two occasions one year apart, confirmed that teenagers who try e-cigarettes are more likely than those who don't to subsequently try conventional cigarettes. That finding is consistent with Gottlieb's fear. But it is also consistent with the hypothesis that pre-existing differences make some teenagers more likely to experiment with both products.

Notably, past-month vaping in the first survey was not associated with subsequent smoking, which suggests the overall correlation does not reflect regular vapers who progress to cigarettes after getting hooked on nicotine. Just 21 students—0.2 percent of the sample—initially reported that they had never smoked but had vaped during the previous month and later reported that they had tried cigarettes. It's not clear any of them were ever regular vapers or ever became regular smokers.

The overall vaping rate rose between the two surveys while the smoking rate declined, which is consistent with other surveys. In fact, adolescent smoking rates have reached record lows as experimentation with e-cigarettes has surged. A study reported in the journal Tobacco Control last year found the downward trend in smoking among teenagers accelerated as vaping became more common.

According to one survey, that decline stalled in 2018, the year of the vaping spike that alarmed the FDA. But another survey found that underage smoking continued to fall.

If more vaping means less smoking among teenagers, that represents a significant public health improvement, given the huge difference in risk between the two forms of nicotine consumption. But it's not a benefit the FDA considered. "I'm sure that there's a component in there of kids who are using e-cigarettes in lieu of combustible tobacco," Gottlieb said last fall, but "our mandate is no child should be using a tobacco product."

NEXT: Brickbat: Watch Where You Point That Thing

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. ‘They’ ban guns because they look dangerous.
    ‘They’ ban vaping because it looks like cigarettes.
    ‘They’ ban damn near everything because it allows them to control others.
    Let the teen vape. It leaves a trail so we know where they are – – – –

  2. It seems like the FDA is staffed by commie do gooders.

  3. There is no such thing as good nicotine consumption. Nicotine is a known carcinogen and e-cigs are still highly carcinogenic. Of course they aren’t as carcinogenic as regular cigarettes, but you wouldn’t say getting shot in the head is safe just because it happens once instead of twice.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4154473/

    1. We found that the e-cigarette vapors contained some toxic substances. The levels of the toxicants were 9 to 450 times lower than in cigarette smoke

      If you don’t know the dose is the poison, then you go right now, and drink 450x the USRDA of water.

      Nicotine does not, however, cause cancer. It is one of thousands of chemicals in tobacco.

      Read your own damn links you quote, before you make yourself sound [more] stupid.

      1. It does not say that anywhere in the study and such a statement would blatantly contradict the findings of the study as well as the hundreds of other studies proving the link between nicotine and TSNAs in both tobacco AND non-tobacco nicotine products. The study quite literally found nitrosamines in all but three of the vape products they tested. Substantial concentrations of known carcinogens produced explicitly by nicotine = carcinogenic, end of story.

        Even if the study I linked did say what you quoted, don’t resort to flawed arguments. There’s no such thing as a study that stands on its own. Check all the other studies that cited the previous study as well as other studies. There are quite literally hundreds of studies that observe the carcinogenic effects of nicotine, never mind all the other harmful shit that has nothing to do with cancer but is still detrimental to your health.

        1. What’s your point then? He’s right except for a technicality? What do you want to come of this information you are espousing? You want people to smoke instead? Is that what you’re pushing for? Or are you one of those naysayers that has to find the negative in everything?

          Here’s where you’re way off base: they haven’t even found a link between weed and lung cancer. You think nicotine and water is worse than weed? Vaping is a huge step forward for everyone wanting to quit and boon for this generation. I wish I had grown up around vaping instead of the guaranteed 25 years off your life from smoking. I just don’t see a point in you being a know it all and highlighting the negatives of such a healthier alternative.

          1. No, my point is that he was completely wrong on both counts. Not only does the study literally not say in any way, shape or form that nicotine does not cause cancer, the study also finds that nicotine produces known carcinogens in large enough concentrations to be concerned.

            We’re on Reason. I want people to do whatever they want and with rare exceptions depending on the level of harm inflicted against others, I don’t support govt interference of any kind into drug use. That principle has nothing to do with the question of whether or not vaping has certain health affects and I will continue to insist that it isn’t safe at all. It’s one thing to support legalization, but Reason is regularly delving into vaping advocacy that I don’t consider appropriate.

            1. Why do you come here then? Would you go over to High Times and wag your finger at them because you don’t consider pot advocacy appropriate?

    2. RJ Reynolds? I knew you’d show up to tell us that vaping is just a tiny bit better than smoking – you god damn fool.
      I don’t give one fuck about vaping. Smoking kills. So until vaping starts killing let’s just have you stfu so we can vape in peace.
      On a side note, I’m a pack a day smoker.

    3. I’m sorry I just had to comment again because of this jackwagon big tobacco shill.
      Seriously how can you be so fucking ignorant? Jesus Christ I honestly have never seen another human so caught up in their love of money that they would intentionally go out and try to harm other humans by leading them down the opposite path. Wtf is wrong with you dude? Vaping is carcinogenic? Who says shit like that?

      1. I like how I’m a big tobacco shill for telling the truth about nicotine as if big tobacco does not also have nicotine and as if big tobacco is not already in the process of becoming big vape. Yeah, because criticizing vaping is totally condoning tobacco. Not a fallacy! Not a fallacy!

    4. “Nicotine is a known carcinogen.”
      Perhaps you should try and educate yourself. See if this helps: https://thorax.bmj.com/content/66/4/353

      1. Perhaps you should learn how to properly conduct academic research. Their claim that no current data indicates nicotine is carcinogenic is based on a single study from 2009 and hardly qualifies as a valid assertion, which also explains why this study has only been cited twice (no citations since 2013) and not for its claims about nicotine not causing cancer. Worse yet for your argument, this study doesn’t even ADDRESS the question of whether or not nicotine causes cancer. It just casually asserts it based on one study and proceeds to use that as the basis for the actual content of the study, which was asking smokers about their perceptions of nicotine.

        The research I have cited is all from the past few years and you can literally view the full body of work along with any and all citations from other authors, proving that the work is in fact not just a garbage study written by bottom of the barrel academics.

        The problem with people trying to win arguments instead of being objective is that like anything, you can go on the internet and find it. Just because one jackass wrote a study saying one thing doesn’t mean it disqualifies the hundreds of studies saying otherwise.

        1. But we must trust your pontificating on the subject, right?

        2. The report you linked to above does Not list nicotine as a carcinogen.

          What it lists is achemical that is a chemical alteration of nicotine. If you actually look up the listed chemical, it’s not a natural content of tobacco. It’s a byproduct of the processes of drying, aging, curing and smoking of tobacco.

          N-Nitrosonornicotine

          NNN is produced by the nitrosation of nornicotine during the curing, aging, processing, and smoking of tobacco.[4] Roughly half of the NNN originates in the unburnt tobacco, with the remainder being formed during burning.

        3. But an undeniable phenomenon is that many countries are restricting the production and import and export of electronic cigarettes. For example, China.
          https://www.pngtube.com/viewm/biRox_ribbon-white-cliparts-breast-cancer-ribbon-black-hd/

        4. “The research I have cited”
          Lol, the research you have cited is a single study that does not offer any evidence of nicotine being a carcinogen and which concluded that e cigarettes are likely substantially safer then tobacco cigarettes.

          Try reading the Royal College of Physicians UK 200+ pages report on ecigarettes. You can find it here: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0

          You will be interested to learn that they claim: “Nicotine is not, however, in itself, a highly hazardous drug (see Chapters 4 and 5). It increases heart rate and blood pressure, and has a range of local irritant effects, but is not a carcinogen.37”

          But I suppose these guys are just bottom of the barrel academics as well eh?

    5. There is no such thing as good nicotine consumption

      There is no requirement to use nicotine in vaping products.

      A new study from Texas A&M University and published in the Journal of Toxicology suggests that oral nicotine may actually prevent the brain from aging, and thus developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
      http://naturalsociety.com/nicotine-may-help-prevent-alzheimers-parkinsons-disease-9686/

      Nicotine May Slow Progression to Alzheimer’s Disease
      Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) was one of three academic medical centers participating in the study, which showed that six months of nicotine patch treatment resulted in patients regaining up to 46 percent of normal performance for their age on certain long-term memory tests. The placebo group worsened by 26 percent during that time.
      https://www.georgetown.edu/news/slowing-down-of-alzheimers-may-involve-nicotine.html

      1. MS Society-funded study shows that nicotine reduces the invasion of harmful immune cells into the brain in mice with an MS-like disease
        Nicotine reduced clinical symptoms in mice with an MS-like disorder compared to mice who received a mock treatment; the disorder became less severe in the nicotine-treated group, and these mice had an improved recovery time. Upon closer inspection, administration of nicotine decreased the number of pro-inflammatory monocytes in the animal’s bloodstream. Nicotine also decreased the number of pro-inflammatory monocytes and neutrophils, entering the brain and spinal cord.
        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26810225

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.