Harm Reduction Drives Younger Vapers, Not Flavors

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A new study out today shows that young vapers are drawn to vaping because of the harm reduction factor, not flavors.

In a press release obtained by KEYC Mankato, Pinney Associates speaks out on a new peer-reviewed study that analyzes information derived from the FDA and NIH Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) data. The report completely rebukes the conclusion that the U.S. Surgeon General concluded late last year that has been criticized by major scientists and researchers all over the country.

The study of the data showed that nearly 90 percent of more than 13,000 adolescents surveyed who had used vape products at least once in the previous month stated that they believed that vape products were less harmful to them or loved ones than smoking cigarettes. This is completely opposite of the assertion that the U.S. Surgeon General made last year when the office reported that youth vaping was a “gateway” to traditional smoking.

It also rebukes the JAMA research letter, which asserted that flavors were the number one reason that youths try vape products. In the letter, which used the same data-set as the Pinney Associates study, lead researcher Dr. Shiffman concluded that:

“Almost 90% of youth vapers surveyed by the NIH and FDA endorsed reducing the harm of tobacco cigarettes as their reason for choosing e-cigarettes – significantly more than the 81% who cited availability of flavors…In fact, among the teens who said flavors were important, fully 92% also said harm reduction was their motive for vaping. Flavors play a role in youth experimentation with e-cigarettes, but this analysis underscores that the much lower harm of vaping compared to smoking cigarettes is a far more important factor.”

But News Medical is reporting that the conclusion reached by Dr. Shiffman misrepresents the information that was collected by PATH.

“What is interesting about our research is that the availability of vaping products might be contributing to even worse perceptions of tobacco in this age group,” said Dr. Neil McKeganey, Director of the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR), who was the lead author of the study. He went on to say that: ”Young people are rationalizing that, because a much less harmful alternative exists, then logically it makes even less sense to consume tobacco.”

This was the underlying conclusion that many vape advocates claimed that the U.S. Surgeon General’s office should have come to when they released their report late last year. That report, which refused to distinguish between youths that regularly vaped or just tried vaping during the time period in which the study took place, misconstrued the final data to make a final push for stricter regulations on vaping, which is already finding some businesses closing in the country.

The authors of the study also signaled that youths understand that the risks of vaping over the long term are not yet known, stating in their conclusion that:

“What our research shows is that young people clearly perceive e-cigarettes for what they are – a less harmful alternative to tobacco. Equally, though, this view does not, as one might assume, directly translate into ‘risk-free’ in their minds. To the contrary, some interviewees said they were concerned that e-cigarettes might be associated with unknown risks over the longer term, which also tells us that young people are experimenting with a certain degree of caution.”

The conclusion that Pinney Associates comes to is accurate, as vaping is still a relatively new trend. While it is currently being touted as a smoking cessation tool by governments, including the UK government, there is still much more research to be done to learn more about vaping.

In the meantime, Pinney’s report will debut at the annual meeting of the Society of Research on Nicotine and Tobacco that takes place this week in Florence, Italy. For vapers, it spells good news in the face of a widespread misinformation campaign that seems to be sweeping over America. This publication will continue to deliver updates as they become available.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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