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US decline in smoking “Very dramatic and very encouraging”

23rd April 2015

US decline in smoking "Very dramatic and very encouraging"

So says the president of anti-smoking organisation Legacy, Robin Koval (see here).

The latest government figures shows something that is both good and bad for vaping. In America, smoking has hit an all time low in teens. But the cause of this seems to be a switch to vaping instead. This will of course lead more to cease on the bandwagon against e-cigarettes, claiming they are 'addicting' teens. Fortunately at least, most published research to date shows that vaping in teens is in existing smokers and it appears for a multitude of reasons that vaping is less addictive than cigarettes (this is contended but not known with certainty.) The idea of a gateway towards tobacco use is looking less and less likely (the opposite is what the data supports), and it is definitely true that vaping is less toxic than smoking, so this is at least better than it was before. But, we can see this raises an awful dilemma for health agencies. Precisely because e-cigarettes work, as smoking wanes, the focus will move onto vaping, and whether the risks are enough that more draconian methods will be brought to bear against the sale of e-cigarettes in order to protect the underage users. Most in the industry support restrictions to minors but not to adult users who wish to switch from existing tobacco smoking, including financial penalties in tax. It is undoubtedly a tough ethical area now. Be too aggressive against e-cigs, and tobacco will make a comeback. Do nothing and we risk creating more nicotine dependents in the young. We need to lead with methods to supply legitimate adult users with the safer vaping alternative, and reduce tobacco use as well as vaping in minors.