YOUTH smoking has fallen three times faster since the emergence of vaping, a new study has confirmed.
The long-term decline in youth and young adults having a deadly cigarette habit has accelerated in the US since e-cigarettes became popular in 2014, according to research published in the Tobacco Control journal.
Entitled “Examining the relationship of vaping to smoking initiation among US youth and young adults: a reality check”, the study was led by public health experts Professors David Levy, Ken Warner and Australian Ron Borland.
The research, which used publicly available data to study the trends, revealed: “There was a substantial increase in youth vaping prevalence beginning in about 2014. Time trend analyses showed that the decline in past 30-day smoking prevalence accelerated by two to four times after 2014.
“Indicators of more established smoking rates, including the proportion of daily smokers among past 30-day smokers, also decreased more rapidly as vaping became more prevalent.”
Smoking among young people in the UK has also followed a similar trend with the Office of National Statistics reporting the number of smokers aged 18 to 24 has dramatically fallen in the same time frame.
It also revealed the most common reason people gave for vaping was as an aid to stop smoking, with almost half (48.8%) of vapers saying that’s why they used e- cigarettes. The fact that they are less harmful than cigarettes, backed up by a Public Health England report this year that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than tobacco smoking, was the second most common reason for vaping at 29.2%.
As well as helping to slash smoking rates, vaping has also been found to prevent smokers from having a long-term relapse – even if they try a cigarette in a momentary setback.
The findings, funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the medical journal Drug and Alcohol Review, show vaping actively encourages not just smoking cessation, but long-term relapse prevention.
Lead researcher Dr Caitlin Notley from University of East Anglia's Norwich Medical School, who conducted the research, said: "E-cigarettes are the most popular aid to quitting smoking in the UK. Our previous research has shown that e-cigarettes are really important for helping people stay smoke free - by substituting the physical, psychological and social aspects of smoking.
"We wanted to know what happens when people who have switched to vaping, lapse back into smoking.
"It's really important to understand this so that we can develop advice, guidance and support to help people stay smoke free long term - particularly as relapsing back to smoking cigarettes is so harmful."
Dr Notley added: "In the past - a brief smoking lapse would almost always lead to a full relapse, and people would usually feel like a failure for slipping up. But this was before people started switching to vaping.
"The difference is that, for some vapers, the odd cigarette was thought of as being 'allowed'. For others, an unintentional cigarette made them even more determined to maintain abstinence in future.
"Either way, it didn't necessarily lead to a full relapse back into smoking.
"Because vaping is a more pleasurable alternative, our research found that a full relapse into smoking isn't inevitable when people find themselves having the odd cigarette."