Doctors Question Study Linking Teen Vaping To Smoking
There’s a new study out this week, and it claims that teens who vape are six times more likely to turn to traditional cigarettes.
In an article posted earlier this week on The Daily Caller, health experts from around the globe are baffled by the new research findings that insinuate that vaping can lead teens to smoke traditional cigarettes. The study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics this week, is being slammed by scientists and doctors both as misleading the public and as having results that are questionable at best.
The findings come from a year-long study of 300 high school students, all of which had never smoked traditional cigarettes. At the beginning of the study, only half of the sample of teens stated that they had vaped in the past while the other half had never vaped before. At the end of that year, researchers claimed to have found that the students who had vaped in the past were six times more likely to smoke than the students who’d never vaped.
The study concluded that “These findings suggest that e-cigarette use may promote smoking during the transition to adulthood.” Lead author Jessica Barrington-Trimis, a postdoctoral research with the University of Southern California. She went on to state that “The increase in e-cigarette use, which may be followed by increases in cigarette use, could result in an erosion of the progress that has been made over the last several decades in tobacco control.”
However, there are more than a few problems with the study, mainly that the study did not distinguish teens who have tried vaping and those who were regular vapers within their sample of high school students. The only distinguishing factor between both groups of high school students is that one group had tried vaping in the past and the other group hadn’t.
Ann McNeill, a Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London, pointed out that this difference meant that the study is invalid, as it did not take into consideration a student’s smoking habits or if they had just taken a simple puff from a vape device.
“If so, we would be seeing large increases in tobacco smoking, but instead we are seeing marked declines in youth tobacco smoking since e-cigarettes came on the market,” McNeill added. “This suggests e-cigarettes are actually helping young people not to smoke tobacco cigarettes (something this study did not even consider).”
Another health expert agreed with McNeill. Peter Hajek, who works at the Queen Mary University of London, is the Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit housed at the school. He stated that because the authors did not consider the relationship between the rise of vaping in teens to the overall decline in traditional smoking, the study was misinformed.
Another problem with the study was the way that the authors defined smokers.
Professor Michael Siegel, who is a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, stated that “the study counted anyone who had even puffed a cigarette as being a smoker,” which is a misuse of the term. A smoker has long been defined as a term to indicate a person who habitually smokes, not someone who just experiments with smoking.
Siegel went on to say that this study, among many like it, proved that teens who are already predisposed to having a personality that lends itself to experimenting with smoking will, in fact, do so. This revelation is not new and is generally accepted within the scientific community.
Studies like these must be viewed with a skeptical eye. This study, alone with no critical reason, makes its results seem valid, but further inspection shows that it is undeniably flawed. Please keep this in mind when reading the results of vape studies — they may not be what they appear.