NEW STUDY FINDS TEENS VAPE BECAUSE OF FLAVORING, NOT NICOTINE
July 19, 2016
A new study authored by researchers at the University of Michigan and published in August in the online journal Tobacco Control, “presents some of the first information on the substances that US adolescents vape.” The study presents the most current data showing evidence that falsify the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) claim “e-cigarettes can increase nicotine addiction among young people and may lead kids to try other tobacco products.”
The researchers identified subjects for the study by randomly selecting one-third of the samples used in the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey. The subjects were then questioned about whether they had ever used an “electronic vaporizer.” Those participants who had said they had used or were regularly using an electronic vaporizer were then asked the following: “The LAST TIME you used an electronic vaporizer such as an e-cigarette, what was in the mist you inhaled?” The participants were then given the ability to report one choice from a list of options that included “Nicotine,” “Marijuana or hash oil,” “Just flavouring,” “Other,” and “Don’t know.”
The study found only 34 percent of 12th graders, 32 percent of 10th graders, and 21 percent of 8th graders “had ever used a [vaporizer] in their life.” Of the students who reported using electronic cigarettes or vaporizers, “65–66% in each grade reported vaping ‘just [flavoring]’ at last use.” The percentage of participants using nicotine was “about 20% of 12th and 10th grade students and 13% of 8th-grade students.”
The authors noted the available research has often categorized traditional cigarette users and users of e-cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) as tobacco users, even though many may never actually consume a product containing tobacco.
The evidence in this study shows there is a need to develop a more insightful and scientifically accurate approach to examining vapers and traditional smokers. The authors say by joining tobacco and non-tobacco ENDS users together, the number of users are doubled in “estimates of tobacco prevalence in 12th grade as compared to estimates based solely on cigarette smoking.” The numbers triple for 8th and 10th grade respondents.
The authors conclude the presence of nicotine is a source of contention among policymakers and is “assumed by many to be the predominant substance that youth vape.” The authors have determined that “this assumption is not based on the scientific data.”
Lead author of the University of Michigan study, Richard Miech, a research professor at the Survey Research Center Institute for Social Research, said, “Messages aimed at curbing vaporizer and e-cigarette use among youth may not be successful if these messages center around the dangers of nicotine, given that most youth who vape do not believe they are using nicotine.”
This is the latest study to examine the actual impact of e-cigarettes and ENDS on teenage smoking rates. A 2015 study examined the correlation between access to electronic cigarettes and teenage tobacco smoking rates. The study found for every 1 percentage point increase in e-cigarette use, there is a 0.65–0.83 percentage point drop in smoking rates among teens aged 14 to 18.
With the passage of FDA’s recent deeming regulations, which took effect August 8, the entire e-cigarette and ENDS industry will be negatively impacted by costly compliance measures. Policymakers should be aware of the evidence that has been and will be presented in the wake of the federal government’s overreaching ruling; much of this evidence continues to expose problems in the rationale of FDA’s decision. More importantly, everyone should understand the health benefits, including health care cost savings, tobacco harm reduction products, such as e-cigarettes and ENDs, can have on society.
Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute.