Forget the “gateway Drug” Stigma: Vaping Doesn’t Necessarily Lead to Smoking Cigarettes, Study Says

Why do people vape?

As vaping gained in popularity among all ages, in both America and around the world, the popular new smoking method triggered something like a crisis among public health officials, as they feared technologies like e-cigarettes could stoke a new wave of cigarette addiction. The FDA banned sales of e-cigs to minors in May, and in December, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared that e-cigs were causing a ‘public health crisis’ among America’s youth, even though young e-cig users don’t think it increases their likelihood of smoking cigarettes.

The scientific consensus isn’t clear, either. Studies have swung back and forth in recent years: Some promote vaping as relatively healthier—much less toxin, no lung-gumming tar—and other saying it can produce similar kinds of harmful chemicals. Lately, though, many experts have begun to agree that it vaping is definitely healthier than smoking, even if it’s not exactly proven to be an effective way to quit the old-school cancer sticks.

Now, we can count on another piece of evidence in favor of e-cigs: There’s scant evidence that people, or kids, who use e-cigs (but never smoked cigarettes) will ultimately move on to puffing cancer sticks regularly, according to a new analysis from the University of Buffalo and the University of Michigan.

“The national trends in vaping and cigarette smoking do not support the argument that vaping is leading to smoking,” said Lynn Kozlowski, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “The public deserves accurate information on the health risks of e-cigarettes versus cigarettes. From the best evidence to date, e-cigarettes are much less dangerous than cigarettes. The public has become confused about this.” And this misunderstanding, Kozlowski said, may be causing adults to get discouraged from using vaping as a way to limit smoking, or even quit.

If you smoke and are thinking about quitting, check out the CDC’s tip page and find resources to help you put out your butts for good. And if you are considering switching over to e-cigs if you can’t see yourself going cold turkey just quite yet, just make sure you buy a reputable brand, and not some convenience store knock-offs that will explode in your face.