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Studies find no proof vapers turn into smokers

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International scientific studies from different countries found no evidence that vapers and users of heated tobacco products are turning into smokers, contradicting the “gateway to smoking” theory spread by anti-vaping groups.

A 2017 study showed the use of e-cigarettes was accompanied by a decline in smoking rate in several countries. The study conducted by Shu-Hong Zhu and other researchers said it is not possible to conclusively prove that changes in population smoking could be attributed to any one intervention.

“However, it is noteworthy that the rate of decline in smoking in both the USA and UK has accelerated over the period that vaping has become widespread and quit rates have increased across the population. These changes do not appear to be explained by other factors such as tax rises and public health marketing campaigns,” the study said.

Results of these studies are relevant in the Philippines which enacted Republic Act No. 11900 or the Vaporized Nicotine and Non-Nicotine Products Regulation Act as a law to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale, packaging, distribution, use and communication of vaping products such as e-cigarettes and HTPs.

Public Health England, the highest health authority in the UK, said “latest survey results in the UK do not support the idea that vaping (or the use of e-cigarettes) is a gateway to smoking.”

Action on Smoking and Health-United Kingdom, a staunch anti-smoking organization, also cited the results of five large surveys of 11 to 16 year olds in the UK between 2015 and 2017 showing that “most young people who experiment with e-cigarettes did not become regular users.”

“Overall, there is no evidence that e-cigarettes have driven up smoking prevalence in this age group. In fact, smoking prevalence among young people has declined since e-cigarettes came onto the market,” ASH UK said.

A time–series analysis conducted by researchers led by Emma Beard between 2007 and 2018 in the UK showed that the increase in prevalence of e-cigarette use in England among the entire sample does not appear to have been associated with an increase in the uptake of smoking among young adults aged 16 to 24.

A 2022 study by University of Bristol researchers led by Lionw Shahab said: “Based on the current balance of evidence, using triangulated data from recent population-level cross-contextual comparisons, individual-level genetic analyses and modelling, we do believe, however, that causal claims about a strong gateway effect from e-cigarettes to smoking are unlikely to hold, while it remains too early to preclude other smaller or opposing effects.”


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