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Vape News and Reviews

Fri Dec 08 2023

Vaping Now Outstrips Smoking Among Young US Adults

Vaping now exceeds cigarette usage for 18 to 24-year-olds in America, with over half who use e-cigarettes having never smoked tobacco regularly, researchers report. Analysis of an ongoing federal tobacco study shows more young people are becoming addicted to nicotine by vaping instead of via traditional smoking.

E-Cigarette Use Growing Faster Than Smoking

Data from the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration's Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study revealed nearly 15% of young adults regularly vape - up from 11% in prior statistics. Study leader Dr. Benjamin Toll of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said these shifting dynamics represent a watershed moment.

"We now have a complete transformation with more 'never smokers' who vape than established smokers. This group will likely vape long-term instead of smoking," he explained. With vaping's popularity growing through trendy flavors and marketing, researchers expect adoption rates to climb further still.

The latest 2021 PATH survey wave highlighted 56% of 18 to 24-year-old vapers had not previously engaged in habitual smoking. "That is an absolutely massive shift in the tobacco landscape," emphasized Dr. Toll, director of the MUSC Tobacco Treatment Program.

Is Vaping Less Harmful Than Smoking?

While potentially carrying fewer health risks, vaping does remain addictive and is not harmless, experts highlight. For inveterate smokers facing cancer risks, e-cigarettes may enable quitting cigarette addiction. However, researchers expressed concern at non-smoking youth taking up vaping, which confers no benefits.

"If you've smoked for decades, switching to vapes is at least a partial win," explained study co-lead Dr. Naomi Brownstein, Public Health Sciences associate professor at MUSC. "But if you're an 18-year-old trying nicotine vapes because your friends do, that's problematic."

With vaping devices discreet and available in sweet flavors, adolescents can easily develop life-long nicotine addictions and associated harms. As smoking rates decline, public health policies now need addressing this rise in youth vaping, researchers argue.

Vaping Treatments And Research Still In Early Stages

Given smoking cessation counseling and therapies were not designed for vaping, MUSC postdoctoral fellow Brandon Sanford said more research is vital to help addicted e-cigarette users quit. As vaping overtakes cigarettes among young adults, tailored interventions become essential.

"There's a relative lack of established vaping treatments at the moment. Studies are still evaluating if traditional tobacco cessation techniques translate, but those efforts are nascent," Sanford explained. Despite uncertainties around long-term effects, he added that many do wish to end their vaping dependence.

The study also highlighted rapidly rising vaping rates among young women, who were previously less likely to use e-cigarettes than men. This narrowing gap accords with aggressive social media marketing campaigns often targeting female consumers.