New study suggests e-cigarettes could lead teenagers to experiment with tobacco
The benefits of vaping are not so clear cut
We know that smoking kills, but the debate over the electronic alternative, known as e-cigarettes or vaping, is just lighting up. In 2015, a British government agency reported that e-cigarettes can reduce the health risks of smoking by 95 per cent, because they deliver fewer harmful chemicals than regular cigarettes. A new study, published by the British Medical Journal's specialised Tobacco Control journal last week, appeared to contradict that evidence. It suggested that the use of e-cigarettes could be leading UK teenagers to try tobacco smoking.
Its findings showed that 34.4 per cent of teens surveyed who had never smoked cigarettes but had experimented with e-cigarettes, said that they had tried smoking cigarettes within a year. These headline figures seem to support the view that e-cigarettes can act as a "gateway drug" that inevitably and eventually leads the user to smoking tobacco
Although the study's authors have urged caution in interpreting its results – they have noted that while e-cigarette use has increased in Britain, rates of smoking have continued to fall – its findings are troubling, especially considering the efforts being made by governments around the world to reduce smoking rates among young people. In the UAE, for example, tobacco use has been banned in public places in recent years, while an excise tax will see the cost of tobacco products rise significantly when it is introduced later this year.
Until now, the Government has adopted a tough stance against e-cigarettes, banning both their import and sale, despite evidence suggesting that these products are substantially safer than cigarettes or smoking shisha. Certainly, this study appears to support the Government's position. If vaping encourages someone into tobacco smoking, continued caution might be prudent.