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E-Cigarette Users are Mostly Former Smokers, Study Says

by · November 12, 2015

E-Cigarette Users Former Smokers StudyWe have new proof that e-cigarettes are not causing a dramatic increase in nicotine usage thanks to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a study of nearly 37,000 US adults, the CDC found that only 3% of those who had tried e-cigarettes had never smoked before. Compare this to about half of all current and former smokers, and it’s clear that e-cigarettes are not the “gateway drug” that its detractors want the public to believe.

The CDC study is the first of its kind by a government health agency in the United States, and one of the largest in scale in the world so far. Although a recent UK health agency study was probably more substantial overall, the data within the CDC study provides e-cigarette advocates with a lot of ammunition to work with, as it validates long-held beliefs of the pro-vaping community with hard data.

Important Study Findings

Study participants include both current, former, and one-time e-cigarette users. Despite the wide range of users polled, there is a lot of promising data. Almost a quarter of current e-cigarette users had recently quit, and only 16 percent of those currently using e-cigarettes were also still smoking.

That seems to suggest that vaping is working well as an smoking deterrent, and a large number of vapers are able to kick the smoking habit once they start.

Vapers do skew younger — no surprise here — with one in five who said they have tried vaping being under the age of 25. E-cigarette use declines substantially as age increases, though: only three percent of those polled 65 and over had ever tried an e-cigarette.

Why the disparity? It likely has to do with the perceived “coolness” of vaping, as younger generations increasingly turn more anti-smoking than their older counterparts. To be fair and balanced though, we will note there was some troubling data in the study. Among non smokers, one in ten had tried an e-cigarette in the under 25 age group, by far the largest of any age group of non smokers.

Of course, despite all the good news before that point, anti-vaping advocates jumped on this bit of bad news, like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ president Matthew Myers, who said:

What this survey shows is young adults who have never smoked are picking up electronic cigarettes in truly alarming numbers.

Such a response shouldn’t be surprising though, given there was not much else to cause concern in this study. However, another study conducted by NPR might be more worrisome.

Public Supports FDA Regulations

As we continue to fight proposed regulations, we’re facing an uphill battle in convincing the public that e-cigarettes are beneficial. A recent NPR survey shows that a majority of the public DOES support the FDA’s efforts to regulate e-cigarettes like traditional ones.

57 percent of those surveyed supported regulation, compared to 25 percent who did not. Education and income seemed to play a large part in whether the person polled supported regulation: two-thirds of those with a college degree or making $100,000 a year saying they supported regulation compared to only half of those with a high school diploma or less or making under $50,000 per year.

It’s clear that the pro-vaping lobby has a lot of work to do when it comes to convincing the American public that crippling regulation is a bad idea. Although this new CDC study seems to support the claims that vaping does not lead to nicotine use and can help smokers quit, regulations are expected to be handed down at any moment and time may be running out.

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