Teen smoking continues to decline, E-cig use going up
In an article that was published on June 9th, 2016 on Webmd.com , you will find some new statistics about cigarette and E-cig use – and while they’re not necessarily surprising, a lot of people do have mixed feelings about them.
First off, what most people don’t realize is that teens do seem to be listening to traditional advice on health and safety, especially when it comes to cigarettes.
According to the article, just over 1 in 10 high schoolers used cigarettes in 2015 – which is down quite a bit from the 1 in 4 that studies recorded in 1991. These figures were reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and seem to indicate that high schoolers are ‘getting the point’ where tobacco products are concerned.
But there’s also another side of the coin that some people are worried about. This survey (called the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey) also said that 45 percent of teens surveyed said that they had tried an E-cig at least once over the course of their life, and that nearly 1 in 4 said that they had used E-cigs in the past 30 days.
Some are saying that these figures strengthen the case that E-cigs are a ‘gateway habit’ to real tobacco cigarettes – but on the other hand, this argument seems to have already been tried, tested, and failed for a few different reasons.
While it’s true that these new numbers reveal that more young people are using E-cigs than most people thought, there’s still a constant problem with the gateway theory in the sense that smoking should also be increasing along with the use of E-cigs if it’s true that they’re going to lead to smoking. If electronic cigarettes are a gateway device, and if more teens are using them now than ever, then shouldn’t tobacco cigarette use also be increasing?
But that’s not the only concern noted in the article. According to a quote by Patricia Folan, director of the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York, nicotine itself isn’t good for young people in any form. Here’s what the quote said…
“These products contain nicotine, an addictive substance, which has a powerful and detrimental effect on the developing brain of youth and young adults.”
What do we think of the overall story?
It’s a really good sign that young people are smoking fewer cigarettes – and while we don’t necessarily agree that E-cigs are a gateway habit, we do wish that fewer young people were using nicotine.
What a lot of people also need to understand, of course, is that E-cigs are much less dangerous than cigarettes – so really, aren’t E-cigs actually doing a service? Even if nicotine isn’t good for teenagers, which is worse… teens getting it from cigarettes, or from E-cigs?
E-cigs have been found to be much, much, safer – and while young people would be much better off without nicotine at all, the fact that they’re getting it from E-cigs now instead of from cigarettes actually should count as a victory.
Of course, regulating to keep E-cigs out of the hands of minors is pretty universally accepted as a good idea – but on the other hand, it could be said that regulating too heavily could make E-cigs more difficult to obtain than cigarettes – and that would leave kids with a higher risk for picking up smoking. It’s not exactly clear how ‘instrumental’ E-cigs have been in the struggle to get teens to drop their frequency of tobacco use, but what if a reduction in the use of E-cigs also led to an increase in the use of cigarettes?
Some of these questions are still unknowns – but even with that in mind, it’s likely that E-cigs are actually doing a lot more good than harm, and hopefully, future regulation won’t hinder them from being an ally in the fight against tobacco and cigarette addiction.