This article reflects my opinion and thoughts only. It doesn’t express what MTLvaping.com is thinking as a whole. Also, it is not meant to insult or degrade anyone.
Does (teen) vaping lead to smoking? This is a question often asked, and immediately answered by a yes of course, in the now anti-vaping media. They call it the “vaping gateway to smoking”.
While it could be a legitimate question to ask and try to answer, the “Does vaping lead to smoking?” question is in fact a statement and an argument often used by anti-vaping actors to attack vaping and vapers.
But how does this vaping gateway theory stand up to scrutiny? Do the studies, even those cited by the media and officials, actually prove this claim?
You will discover by reading my two articles on this topic (the second will be published in a few days), that not only vaping does not lead to smoking in any significant way but that, if there’s, even among young adults and teens, a gateway between vaping and smoking, it’s actually in the other direction: from smoking to vaping. And that’s how it should be.
The claim anti-vaping advocates, FDA, government officials, state governors etc… and, of course, some researchers make is that, supposedly, vaping leads to smoking. Or that, at least, if a young adult or teen tries vaping it will significantly increase the probability s/he’s going to become a smoker in the future.
There were other ones before but the most “recent” (February 2019) study they use to try and give some substance to their stance is this one:
The Conclusion of the study states:
“This study’s findings support the notion that e-cigarette use is associated with increased risk for cigarette initiation and use, particularly among low-risk youths. At the population level, the use of e-cigarettes may be a contributor to the initiation of cigarette smoking among youths.”
This was, and still is, widely propagated in the media to prove that teen vaping leads to smoking, that kids are more likely to smoke after trying vaping.
A headline, some apparently definite, and if possible, alarming numbers, some claims like “teens who tried vaping are 3 or 4 times more likely to smoke than those who didn’t”, and they’re good to go.
There are several huge problems with this study. Among them are (there are more but):
– The way they created their study groups makes no sense. They created 3 groups: non-users, e-cigarette first users and other tobacco product first users.
They combined cigarette-first users with non-users for the purpose of their study. Yes, they did.
Thus, they didn’t create a cigarette-first (or combustible product first) user group. More, they put cigar and hookah first users in the other tobacco group whereas they should be in the same combustible product first user group along with cigarette first users.
It seems that all this was done to artificially increase the relative statistical importance (expressed in percentage) of the e-cigarette first user group.
– They consider that a teen that simply tried to inhale on a vape once to be an e-cigarette-first user.
– They use the “ever cigarette use” metric as one of their main metrics for their results.
Now, you may better understand what this sentence from their results mean:
“Prior e-cigarette use was associated with more than 4 times the odds of ever cigarette use”
This means that a teen or young adult that has tried vaping once and then smoked once could be considered to have followed this vaping gateway to smoking.
And that’s a (type of) sentence you may have seen before. That’s the bomb they tried to convince us of being so damning for vaping. We saw that many times in media headlines. But now, you know it’s a hollow claim.
Although they do allege that there’s a 2.75 (“nearly 3”) times the probability for current cigarette use (having puffed on a cigarette at least once in the month prior to the study).
1. One puff on a cigarette (or a vape) in a month makes you a smoker (or a vaper) now. SMH.
Well, if you want to prove a point, you’ve got to show significant numbers, right?
2. Even without discussing how a teen qualifies as a smoker (or a vaper) for them. 2.75 more likely to become one compared to what/who?
To those who’ve never tried a “tobacco product”.
Err… Yeah, sure, someone who’s willing to try a vape, even once, may be more likely to try a smoke or even really end up a smoker later on. Does that mean that vaping caused or lead that person (here teen) to smoke or become a smoker? Absolutely not.
For one, trying vaping once or twice doesn’t make you a vaper either.
Second, in their study they don’t try to determine if the teens who have vaped did so for any extended period of time. They just ask if the teen has ever tried to vape.
And this, in no way, proves teen vaping leads to smoking. No causation is established between the two. But they assume that vaping once is THE (only) reason for becoming a smoker.
[NB: This is exactly why the “Gateway Theory” is so decried even among researchers. It tries to pass a mere correlation as a causation without giving any substantial proof. And that’s also why the “Common Liability Theory” was developed. See my next article for more on this topic].
This kind of logical fallacy is ridiculous. But that’s what they’re going with.
Plus, I’ll show you that the idea that vaping can lead to smoking is, in fact, simply not true, in Europe at least. The world’s largest study on teen vaping and smoking will definitely prove that.
– They emphasize barely relevant points while burying or not even presenting others that could prove positive to vaping. The following is what should be the real conclusion of this study. Thank you Professor Rodu for giving it to us.
Brad Rodu, a Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville, commented on the study (you can find his comment in the dedicated section on the page of the study itself) and pointed out:
“the absolute population impact (API) can be calculated using the full denominator of 6123 teens. This reveals that e-cigarette first use resulted in 31/ 6123 or about 0.5% API, contrasted with 25+74 =99 /6123 or 1.6 % for teens without any first e-cigarette use. In short, the API for teens without e-cigarette first use was triple that for teens with first e-cigarette use.”
1. The authors of the study didn’t even calculate the API (Absolute Population Impact) of e-cigarette and cigarette (combustible tobacco product would have been preferable) first users on the total population.
2. The total percentage of teens who tried vaping first and ended up smoking (n=31) compared to the total population studied (n=6123) was… 0.5%!
Yes, you read that right. Teens who tried vaping first and then became smokers represent an enormous (/s) 0.5% of the total population.
All this nonsense in the media, all this anti-vaping going on for… at maximum, if we consider their way of determining what a first vaping product user, what a first cigarette user and a “current” smoker are, the dreaded teen vaping gateway to smoking concern 0.5 % of the population.
Now you know why they didn’t calculate the API. You see, 0.5% would look like a ridiculously low number. Well, that’s because it is. And we can’t have that, can we? /s
3. Teens who had never touched an e-cigarette in their life were 3 times more likely (1.6 vs. 0.5%) to smoke than those who did. Or, to put it differently, teens who vaped at least once were three times less likely to end up as smokers!
See, I can make stats talk too.
Still, don’t you think that these stats are relevant? The authors of the study didn’t.
But wait, that’s not all. I’m not finished, yet.
Because, ok, there are teens who vape first and become smokers… A tiny number but still, there are. So, another legitimate question someone would normally ask, above all in the interest of objectivity and in the context of a scientific study is: “Are there teens who smoke first and, then, become vapers”, right?
Strangely (… or not), the study does NOT ask, nor obviously answer, this question. It doesn’t speak about that. Surely an oversight or a mistake. /s
But, thankfully, Professor Rodu dug for the numbers in the study itself and found the answer:
“In eTable 5, the adjusted probability of current e-cigarette use at follow up among cigarette first users was 8.3%. In Table 2, the adjusted probability of current cigarette use among e-cigarette first users was 4.0%. This means that twice as many first-smoking teens currently used e-cigarettes at follow-up than first-vaping teens who currently used cigarettes.”
In other words, there are twice as many teens that transition from smoking to vaping than there are from e-cigarettes (vaping) to (smoking) cigarettes.
So, the actual gateway is the opposite of what this study is pretending to prove.
This would be hilarious if the consequences (constant attack on vaping, misinformation, ban on flavored e-liquids etc… and maybe soon of vaping altogether) were not this serious.
That’s it. No need for further demonstration or useless talk on this study. But, now, you can make your own (I hope a bit more enlightened after reading this article) opinion of the “vaping gateway to smoking” theory and the idea that it’s an undisputable fact, proven by “science and studies” that teen vaping leads to smoking cigarettes (later on).
Now, my next article, instead of debunking a theory that claims that vaping leads to smoking, will present you one that proves that there is no gateway. That’s even more difficult to prove since it’s a negative but the author of the study brilliantly did. She did so by making the world’s largest study on young people vaping and smoking. What were the conclusions of this study?
You’ll discover them in my next article…
In the meantime, what you can do is…
⭐… SHARE THE TRUTH ⭐