Young People Smoking - Debunking Myths around Vaping
At Pod Salt, we truly believe that vaping and E-Cigarettes are the way forward for many smokers looking to quit. However, vaping has unjustly been given a bad reputation which can potentially deter those in need. Today we look into the debate at whether vaping can lead to more young people smoking, and whether there is any evidence to back up such a claim.
E-Cigarettes will lead to young people smoking
Are more young people smoking or vaping now?
Regular use of vaping products among young people (aged 11-18) continues to remain consistently low showing little increase over the last few years. With the presence of COVID since 2019, it’s hard to decipher whether any recent changes may be due the presence of the pandemic. Since March 2020, studies have shown that 6.7% of 11-18 year olds were smokers or had smoked and this showed no significant increase from March 2019 (6.3%). And likewise, levels of vaping over the last few years were around 4.8% in March 2020, the same as March 2019, showing no increase in young adults vaping. It is worth noting that over the years there has been a considerable decline in the number of young people who smoke cigarettes in England.
Of those 11-18 year olds who tried vaping and had smoked first (45.4%) there was a percentage who admitted they had tried vaping but had never smoked (28.9%). Now that can sound like a big number, but when you take into consideration that between 0.8% and 1.3% of young people had never smoked but vaped, it suggests that most young vapers were either former or current smokers. There is no current evidence that the rise in popularity of vaping has increased rates of smoking in young people in the UK.
Is it just experimenting or is it addiction?
Research has suggested that it’s quite likely that most young people who have tried vaping, have done so from curiosity. Of that 0.8% to 1.3% of young vapers who had never tried smoking, many listed their main reason as experimenting and trying something new – something I’m sure we can all relate to. In fact, a study in 2017 found that although there had been a rise in prevalence of E-Cigarettes in 2016 to 2017 (possibly due to the increase in popularity and becoming more readily available despite selling regulations in the UK, limiting these products to 18+), that those who regularly vaped remained only at 1%. These reports, therefore, suggested that E-Cigarette experimentation is not likely to turn into regular use.
But surely flavours are appealing to children?
The study from Public Health England into 11-18 year olds who vaped found that fruit flavours were most popular, followed by mint/menthol and then by chocolate/dessert/candy flavours. This same study also looked at flavour popularity amongst adult vapers and found that fruit was high on the list, followed by tobacco flavours. Although it has been argued that vaping should retain that cigarette flavour to potentially deter young people from vaping, it may also potentially impact smokers looking to quit. Flavours are undoubtedly our way of making something more enjoyable and when trying to quit smoking it can be the nudge that keeps you on track. A study that looked into flavoured E-Liquids in relation to those looking to quit smoking, found that those who vaped sweet flavours were more likely to quit than those who used other flavours such as tobacco or menthol.
At Pod Salt we want to empower smokers with the facts of vaping to help shed light on some of the myths of vaping. With this final instalment of Monday Myth-Busting, we at Pod Salt hope to have given you more insight into the facts of vaping and clear the air of the fiction. If you are ever in doubt or have a burning question in regards to all things vaping, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
● UK Health Security Agency – Clearing up some myths around E-Cigarettes
● Yorkshire Cancer Research – Position Statement on Vaping products
● Public Health England – Vaping in England: an evidence update, February 2021
● Yorkshire Cancer Research – The truth about vaping
● National Library of Medicine – Young people’s use of E-Cigarettes across UK
● National Library of Medicine – The use of flavoured nicotine vaping products
● Action on Smoking and Health – Young people and smoking