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article imageOp-Ed: More young people are trying vaping than smoking

By Tim Sandle     Jul 24, 2015 in Health
London - More school children in England, aged between 11 and 15, have tried electronic cigarettes than have tried smoking conventional cigarettes, according to government figures.
It was a question hotly debated when e-cigarettes were first launched: are they a means to encourage people away from smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products, or would they encourage people who have never smoked to take up the nicotine habit?
If data from the U.K. is accurate, it seems, for a certain demographic, that more are trying e-cigarettes for the first time than are trying cigarettes. This is a key group too, since people who smoke tend to take up the habit when a teenager or in their early 20s than later in life. What is not known, of course, is whether those who are taking up vaping for the first time would have taken up cigarettes anyway, or if the allure of sickly flavored e-cigarette products has enticed more young people to acquire a nicotine fix.
The U.K. information has come from data collated by the Health and Social Care Information Center. The good news is that smoking rates, for conventional tobacco products, among teenagers in the U.K. is at its lowest ever recorded level. However, the numbers trying e-cigarettes and other vaping products is relatively high, with 20 percent reporting that they had tried a product at least once. The BBC's summary of the information shows that 20 percent of 11 to 15 year olds have tried an e-cigarette and 18 percent have tried a tobacco cigarette. Back in 2003, 42 percent of the people within this age bracket had puffed away on a cigarette. A similar trend has been underway in the U.S.
Whether young people taking up e-cigarettes is a good thing depends on your point of view. If it stops them taking in cancer causing toxins, then that is obviously better. Whether growing numbers of young people becoming addicted to nicotine is good is less clear cut (unless you're a shareholder in the major tobacco firms that have divested into the vaping market.) Moreover, how safe e-cigarettes are is unclear. The World Health Organization has called for e-cigarettes not be used indoors because any presumption that e-cigarettes carry no health risks are inaccurate: there is much data to gather about the effect of the aerosols on the human body.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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