A lot of controversy has surrounded e-cigarettes since have been introduced on the market back in 2006 and one of the key statements in this debate is that, with the rich palette of sweet flavors and endorsement from celebrities, these devices are targeted at young people. Another idea often stated by opponents of these gizmos is that they can have a gateway effect and get minors hooked up on nicotine before switching to more potent tobacco cigarettes.
The idea has mainly been fueled by the CDC that published some reports on the vaping habits of US teens and adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over 260,000 students in middle and high schools (i.e. aged around 11 to 18) who had never smoked a tobacco cigarette nevertheless used an e-cigarette in 2013 – more than three times as many as in 2011.
However, some surveys come to cast some light over the situation and in many times the numbers are far less dramatic than previously estimated. Such is the case of a recent study published on September 17, which shows that while electronic cigarette use by young people increased between 2013 and 2014:
- Only 1.8 per cent of children are regular users of these devices. 90 per cent of regular or occasional users are young people who are already smokers or ex-smokers;
- 91 percent of young people have not tried an e-cigarette even once;
- However, over 80 per cent of young people are now aware of e-cigarettes (up from under 70% in 2013)
This new data from was gathered by Action on Smoking and Health, analyzed by Public Health England and presented at the Public Health England Conference. The ASH Smokefree Youth survey questioned over 2000 people with ages between 11-18 year back in 2013 and a further 2000 in 2014 about their smoking and vaping behavior. It also found that 98 percent of children who have never smoked have never even tried an ecig.
Overall, the number of young people who have ever tried an e-cigarette has increased by 3 per cent since last year; however, their use is closely linked with smoking behavior. Minors who are regular smokers are more susceptible to try electronic cigs too.
Not only are young people not using the products with any regularity they are also not interested in using the products in the future. Over 90 percent of youngsters attending the survey who had never tried vaping said they had no intention to do so in the future.
‘ASH supports the introduction of an age of sale of 18 for electronic cigarettes and stricter controls on how they’re advertised as a precautionary measure to prevent these products being promoted to children. However, our survey results should reassure the public that electronic cigarettes are not currently widely used by young people, nor are they interested in taking electronic cigarettes up. The small increases in use that have occurred over the last year are almost entirely among children who smoke or have smoked’ said Deborah Arnott, ASH Chief Executive.