In Hawaii, smoking has been a largely accepted way of life for many years. According to the CDC, Hawaii has the third highest smoking rate in the country, with a reported 16.8% of adults currently smoking. Despite the high prevalence of cigarettes, Hawaii News Now recently reported that electronic cigarettes have become more popular than tobacco cigarettes among young adults.
A survey of young adults found that nearly half had tried an electronic cigarette. Vaping is more prevalent in Hawaii than in the other 49 states, according to Pallav Pokhrel, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center. After noticing the increasing popularity of vaping, Pokhrel decided to conduct a study to find out just how many young adults were using e-cigs. “Right now, it seems like electronic use is even higher among younger adults than cigarette use,” he said.
To learn more about the growth of vaping in Hawaii, Pokhrel surveyed 300 adults between the ages of 18 and 35. He learned that 43 percent had tried an ecig at least once and 28 percent had tried an ecig for the first time over the past 30 days. While the study was quite limited and no information was provided about how participants were selected, it does show that ecigs are quickly picking up speed in the Aloha state.
“Hawaii has taken to e-cigarettes more quickly than a lot of mainland markets specially because Hawaii has the most smokers per capita,” explained Scott Rasak, the marketing manager of popular Volcano Ecigs. Young adults in Hawaii are turning to ecigs rather than cigarettes because they feel it is a safer option. With no tobacco and no secondhand smoke, it only makes sense that ecigs would be the better choice in regard to health.
However, some local officials are worried that the surge in ecigs could present problems in the future. Stanley Chang is a City Councilman in Honolulu and he has growing concerns about vaping. “It’s definitely a concern that ecigarettes are like a gateway. Once people get hooked on the nicotine, they will switch over to regular cigarettes, which are extremely dangerous.”
It’s unfortunate that Pokhrel did not ask participants if they had used cigarettes prior to vaping. This could quickly dispel the “gateway” concerns that Chang and his colleagues seem focused on. A previous Harvard study found that ecigs do not act as a gateway to tobacco use, but actually have the opposite effect by acting as a bridge to smoking cessation.
For now, the locals in Hawaii are vaping and they have no regrets. “It’s gotta be better than smoking. I’m not putting something I set on fire into my lungs,” said resident David Shultz.
Do you think ecigs will outpace cigarettes in other states in the near future?