Brand new data out of New Zealand suggests the youth vaping epidemic has been overblown, as the rate is actually dropping.
It’s nothing new for a certain portion of the general public to be quite concerned with the long-term impact of vaporizers. Most of these fears center around unforeseen damage, or more commonly the impact acceptance of e-cigarettes could have on the youth. You don’t have to look very far to find all sorts of stories saying acceptance of vaporizers for their harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits will inevitably lead to non-smoking teens becoming addicted. Things are usually taken a step further even, to suggest these non-smoking teens are eventually ending up full-blown smokers. Luckily, we’ve once again gotten independent research which suggests this impression of vaping is more anecdotal than factual.
The new research, which shows a decline in teenage vaping rates, is making waves across the globe. All while New Zealand continues their push toward their “smoke-free” 2025 goal. Things could have been much different though, as New Zealand had been very restrictive of the vaping industry. It was only a few years ago they officially broke step with their closest neighbors, Australia, in a well-documented fight against vaping. Ever since they’ve reported incredible results which have been heralded by public health experts around the world. They’re now seen as a clear blueprint for how other countries can change course before it’s too late.
The New Report
The Associate Health Minister of New Zealand, Jenny Salesa, recently presented findings of the 2018 report by Action for Smokefree 2025. They surveyed nearly 30,000 sophomore-age students about their relationship and understanding of smoking and vaping. After collecting and analyzing all the data, the team found the number of students smoking had dropped to record lows. In fact, the number of tenth graders smoking had fallen from 15.2% 20 years ago, to just 1.9% now. More importantly for the vaping industry, the report also concluded both the vaping rate among 14 and 15-year-olds and the number of non-smoking teens vaping is actually declining slightly.
Salesa didn’t pull any punches when discussing the implications of the findings for the vaping industry, pointing to a lack of evidence supporting the so-called “gateway theory.” She said, “Year 10 vaping in New Zealand remains low, and largely among students who smoke. There is still no evidence to suggest vaping is a gateway to cigarette smoking”. As you can imagine, the news was met with significant praise from the vaping community, who have been arguing the same points for years. More importantly, many experts believe winning this particular battle is a primary key in moving the fight for vaping rights forward in any meaningful way.
What Else Researchers Say
This latest research adds an essential piece to the vaping research puzzle. We’ve already known for at least the last several years thanks to work by Public Health England that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Those results were big news at the time, but these days we get this sort of results reasonably often. In fact, just a few months back a team of researchers concluded the toxicants in cigarette smoke are 93% higher than e-liquid vapor. However, the real harm reduction value of vaping isn’t apparent until you realize what it could mean for cancer risk. A report published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than a smoker with a similar history.
But it’s not just harm reduction value either. We also have plenty of reason to see vaping as an extremely useful smoking cessation tool. A report conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville tested all the most common devices and methods for quitting cigarettes and determined it was actually e-cigarettes which are the most likely to be successful. This latest report helps to improve the case against the gateway theory, but it’s not all we’ve got. In fact, a report of over 60,000 students concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer regularly, which means even fewer are ever ending up smokers.
The concern over vaping remains high even after all these years of positive research. Given the damage the tobacco industry has caused, and how outwardly similar looking vaping and smoking are, it’s pretty understandable. That said, we must keep spreading the peer-reviewed research we have to the smokers in our lives whose lives could be affected. Far too many people just don’t understand what’s at stake, or what value vaporizers could provide. Until more people understand the many benefits of vaping, it will remain challenging to protect our rights from misguided legislators. But given what’s at stake, we simply must keep fighting the good fight.
Are you excited about these latest results, do you think it’s going to have a significant impact? What’s the most important thing to teach others about the value of vaping? Why do you think e-cigarettes continue to have such a bad reputation? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.