One of the most common criticisms of vaping is that it demystifies smoking and might lead people to cigarettes. We’ve always maintained that because vaping smells and tastes better, is cheaper and doesn’t involve inhaling black smoke into your lungs, that such a claim is highly unlikely. (Also, it’s a paradoxical criticism – is vaping only bad because people wrongly associate it with something that we know to be bad?)
Vaping is not a Gateway to Smoking
Now it feels more official: A story reported by the BBC says that fears that vaping will “lure” people to smoking “might be unfounded”.
“Data from the Office for National Statistics indicate those who use e-cigarettes, are almost entirely current or former smokers,” the story reports.
“E-cigarettes were mainly used to help smokers quit and because users saw them as being less harmful than cigarettes, the ONS said. And the proportion of adults who smoked cigarettes had fallen to 19%.”
The ONS report says that among vapers, fewer than 1 in 300 have never smoked a cigarette before, while more than half of those who vape say they do so to quit smoking.
Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, told the BBC: “These data should again alleviate the fears expressed by some over an e-cigarette gateway effect.”
Do non-smokers use e-cigarettes?
Meanwhile, The Guardian’s analysis of the same ONS report comes to the same conclusion. The story appears on the Guardian’s Data Blog (which has the tagline of “Stats are Sacred”) and says this: “Is that growth [in vaping] in part driven by people who have never smoked trying it out to see if they like the feeling? No. Not at all. Only 0.14% of non-smokers use e-cigarettes compared to 11.8% of smokers and 4.8% of ex-smokers in Great Britain, according to a new report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). As the report puts it ‘e-cigarettes are used almost exclusively by smokers and ex-smokers.’
Later in the same story, The Guardian cites another survey to corroborate the report: “These results back up the findings of a YouGov Survey commissioned by ASH. That survey showed that half of those using e-cigarettes viewed it as a way to transition off smoking completely. One in five said they were using the electronic version as they perceived it as less harmful than traditional cigarettes.”
E-cigarettes to help quit smoking
The Guardian also mentioned a previous story in their own paper, in which doctors said vaping could save over 50,000 lives in the UK alone.
Speaking on their own site, the ONS said: “E-cigarettes were found to be used mainly as smoking cessation aids and for the perceived health benefits (compared with smoking tobacco). Over half of e-cigarette users said that their main reason for using e-cigarettes was to stop smoking, and about one in five said the main reason for their use was because they thought they were less harmful than cigarettes.”
These news stories and studies back up what we’ve been saying: That vaping is not a gateway to smoking, and frankly, we’re delighted to see these stories as we really don’t want vapers to become smokers.