The debate surrounding vaping and e-cigarettes often offers up more questions that it does answers. It is impossible, for example, to determine how many children who currently vape would otherwise be smoking cigarettes. The body of research surrounding vaping remains slender compared to other areas of public health. Regrettably, the vacuum allows the discourse to become dominated by supposition and conjecture.
This trend is all the more reason to be grateful for the emergence of a piece of academic work that is robust and thought-provoking. The research from Dr Neil McKeganey and the Centre for Substance Use Research is a case in point.
While it is a popular view that vaping can act as a gateway to young people becoming tobacco smokers, an opinion that is understandable given the packaging and sweet flavour ranges of many new vaping products coming on to the market, this study shows that the opposite is true.
Dr McKegany found that there is “very little indication” among young people interviewed that e-cigarettes result in an increased likelihood of the same demographic taking up smoking. In fact, the majority of those interviewed saw vaping as being “entirely different” to smoking.
Scotland has made commendable progress in helping smokers give up, a battle made considerably easier by the availability of alternatives. For years, these took the form of patches or gum, but vaping has displaced such methods. There is much research – and education – to be done, but we should be encouraging smokers to switch to vaping. A culture of banning only makes it harder for people to quit.