In the vast majority of news stories about electronic cigarettes lately, the author provides some basic, generally positive information about e-cigarettes and then leads into all the fears and worries that the so-called “experts” have about these devices. They almost always feature a representative from the American Lung Association – or another anti-smoking group – who complains about the growing use among teens and claims that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to traditional cigarettes. Even though there is no scientific or fact-based evidence to support this claim, they continue to use these fear mongering tactics to push their quit-or-die agenda. We can debate whether or not the growing use among teens is a problem, but there is absolutely no truth behind the claim that electronic cigarettes lead to smoking.
Overall, 43 participants said their first nicotine product was an e-cigarette. Of that group, only one person said they went on to smoke regular cigarettes. And the vast majority who started with e-cigarettes said they weren't currently using any nicotine or tobacco.
Reasons It Doesn't Make Sense
But let's put the studies aside… do we really need experts to prove that electronic cigarettes are not a “gateway”? Just consider the facts and common sense should tell you that it's very unlikely that an electronic cigarette user would start smoking. It just doesn't add up! Here's why:
#1 – Smoking Tastes Nasty
If your first experience with a nicotine-based product is an electronic cigarette, you've likely been exposed to tasty flavor choices like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, watermelon, cinnamon or literally hundreds of other flavors. Why would you give up all these tasty options for a tobacco or menthol-flavored cigarette??? You wouldn't! And for smokers making the switch, once they've adjusted to vaping they're less likely to switch back because of this fact as well.
#2 – Smoking Stinks
You may not notice it if you've been smoking for 20+ years, but to non-smokers… smoking stinks! If you start vaping and you've never smoked before, more than likely you've formed a negative opinion about smokers and that repulsive stench. Why would you start smoking if you can fulfill your new found cravings with an electronic cigarette and avoid the odor??? You wouldn't!
#3 – Smoking Makes You Feel Unhealthy
Former smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes say they feel more energetic, less lethargic and healthier than ever after making the switch. No more coughing, less sore throats and colds, improved lung function and breathing – the list goes on. Would a non-smoker want to take on these additional health risks if they could use an electronic cigarette instead? Nope!
#4 – Smoking Poses Scary, Long-Term Risks
Although we can't say with certainty that e-cigarettes pose no risk, they produce no smoke, tar or ash and lack virtually all of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes. Cigarettes, on the other hand, contain over 4,000 chemicals and lead to various types of cancers, emphysema, heart disease and more. Do teenagers and young adults consider these facts? For the most part… probably not. But if they're using e-cigs, it's one of the many factors they may take into consideration before moving to traditional cigarettes. Just look at the studies… vaping is significantly less harmful!
#5 – Smoking Costs More Money
Could this be the biggest factor for first-time vapers? It definitely has a role to play when choosing between electronic cigarettes and smoking. Teenagers and young adults have less disposable income available, so why would they choose a much more expensive option like smoking when they can continue to vape, save money and get the same nicotine fix? Adults like to save too! Just another reason that it's ridiculous to suggest that vaping leads to smoking.
It Just Doesn't Happen…
With all of these pitfalls, why would anyone choose smoking over vaping??? In no way am I condoning e-cigarette use by teens, or by anyone, but there are major flaws in anti-smoking activists' claim that electronic cigarettes lead to smoking. Not only is there no evidence to support this claim, but common sense leads me (and others) to believe that it just doesn't happen… or it doesn't happen often. Very rarely does a non-smoker pickup an electronic cigarette and start vaping. And out of the handful of “non-smokers” I know who started, NONE OF THEM STARTED SMOKING CIGARETTES… ZERO!