By Traci Pederson
The increased public use of e-cigarettes has not re-normalized the use of conventional cigarettes, as some have argued, according to a new study conducted by the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) in Scotland.
The findings are published in the journal International Archives of Addiction Research and Medicine.
Based on interviews with 100 non-smokers between the ages of 16 and 29, the vast majority (96 percent) of responses showed that young people are clearly able to differentiate between smoking traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. In fact, most expressed a disinterest in vaping, further confirming the notion that the e-cigs are primarily used for attempting to quit or reduce tobacco consumption.
Importantly, there was no reported change in the respondents’ desire to smoke after seeing the devices used in public, with some suggesting the products make cigarettes appear even less appealing.
While 61 percent of the young people suggested the sight of an e-cigarette made them curious about the devices and what the experience of using them was like, only a third of that group said they had tried one since first seeing the devices used in public, and none had gone on to use e-cigarettes more frequently. About 38 percent of the respondents said that seeing an e-cigarette used in public did not make them curious about vaping at all.
“These results cast doubt on claims of a link between the increased popularity of e-cigarettes, their ensuing visibility when used in public, and any resulting increase in the desire to smoke tobacco among young people,” said Dr. Neil McKeganey, director of CSUR and lead author of the study.
“While the study suggests more people now consider vaping to be a ‘normal’ activity, it also shows that there is no basis for regulating e-cigarettes based on a fear they are making smoking more attractive, because this fear is clearly unfounded. Any restrictions on their use, for example in public places, should reflect the reality that people do not think smoking is any more socially acceptable just because more people are seen to be vaping,” McKeganey added.
“If anything, the results of this study show the opposite is true. Vaping is making smoking less interesting for non-smokers. While there is still a need to pursue further research into e-cigarettes, on the basis of our results the devices in their current form can be clearly distinguished from traditional cigarettes. ”
E-cigarettes have been deemed 95 percent safer than traditional tobacco by Public Health England, a view that is supported by numerous other public health and tobacco-control groups.