Latest Report Deals A Huge Blow To The So-Called “Gateway Theory”


A new report concludes not only is vaping not leading to more smokers, but it may be also helping lower rates

There’s still plenty of debate going on over the value of vaporizers. Legislators and public health officials the world over are working to agree on the best path forward, while more research is continually being added. Vaping supporters point to this peer-reviewed evidence as more than enough proof to the extreme harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. Meanwhile, anti-vapers continue to question the long term effects of vaping, particularly on the youth.

Luckily a brand new report once again indicates acceptance of vaping for its many benefits is not leading teens into a life of smoking. The news was met with mixed reaction, as the vaping community feels vindicated, while those against them refuse to accept the truth. Only time will honestly tell how this new research effects the narrative around vaping. But many in the vaping community are hopeful these latest findings will help shift the momentum toward the many benefits of vaping over smoking.

The Latest Report

The fairly large team of researchers was led by Dr. Britt Hallingberg of the Center for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement at Cardiff University in the UK. Published in the Tobacco Control Journal, the researchers primarily wanted to foster a deeper understanding of the impact vaping plays on teen smoking. To do so, they gathered information from nearly 250,000 teens aged 13-15 and asked several questions about their relationship with smoking and vaping. After analyzing all their data, the team made some compelling theories about teenage smoking and vaping. For starters, they found the number of teens who believe trying a cigarette is okay dropped from 70% in 1999 to just 27% in 2015. But more impressively for the vaping community is the increased speed of smoking decline after 2011, when modern vaporizers first became widely popular.

These impressive figures were not lost on the team, as they immediately backed claims the so-called “gateway theory” is being overstated. One of the lead researchers said, “These findings suggest that fears over a resurgence in youth tobacco smoking because of the rise in e-cigarette use are largely unfounded to date. Negative attitudes towards smoking among young people continued to increase during a period where we saw a rapid rise in the use of e-cigarettes.” The team even went as far as to say there is no evidence e-cigarettes are in any way reversing declining smoking rate trends; if anything they’re speeding them up.

The Wider Context

This latest piece of evidence bolsters what we already know about their impact. But it’s not the first report we have which strongly suggests the “gateway theory” is overblown. A report conducted by Action on Smoking and Health of over 60,000 teens concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vape more than once or twice. Naturally, this means even fewer are ending up smokers in any way that can be traced to vaping. Not only that, but we also have reason to believe it’s an incredibly useful smoking cessation tool. A report by researchers at the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods before determining it was actually vaping most likely to succeed.

But what about the health risks? Well, we actually have more evidence supporting the harm reduction value of vaping than anything else. Back in 2015, we got a large scale report from Public Health England which concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. While this was massive news at the time, these days we get this type of result all the time. In fact, just a few months back we got a study which found the toxicants in e-liquid vapor are around 93% lower than in tobacco smoke. But if that isn’t enough for you, consider the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.


As you can see, the fight for vaping is far from over. That said, we do appear to be winning the independent evidence fight, with new research supporting our claims all the time. Winning this fight is the biggest key to protecting our rights. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease, so we must use all the best tools we have in the fight. Luckily, new research like this is helping us make a solid case for e-cigarettes. The more people who understand what’s really at stake, the easier it will become to protect our vaping rights.

Do you think this latest report is going to have a positive impact? What’s the most important thing to remember about vaping? How should we teach others around us about the value of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.

Dustin has been vaping for almost a decade. He found e-cigarettes in 2008 and quickly became drawn to them as an early adopter. He's been writing reviews ever since and has established himself as a well-versed authority on the subject.

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