Is Vaping A Gateway To Smoking? NO!
I’ve heard many negative comments about vaping; uninformed people may claim that it’s ruining the youth of today, or promoting cigarettes, or that anyone who vapes is just going to end up smoking anyway.
I’m not usually one to get defensive or argue, but I put my foot down when it comes to stigmas and misconceptions around vaping. As a former smoke I know that vaping doesn’t make me want to smoke, if anything it does the opposite! After I found how vaping could help satisfy the urge I had to smoke, I no longer wanted to pick up a cigarette. Why would I trade something that kept my urges at bay, while doing less damage to my body, for something that made me feel awful?
What is a “Gateway”
Traditionally, gateways are something that lead individuals from one experience to another, when this term is used it’s usually meant to imply that the destination is a worse place than the gate that led to it. In my experience, I’ve seen many who vape start out at one level of nicotine and go down, the opposite of what occurs when one considers the gateway phenomenon.
When I first began vaping, I used a medium-high level of nicotine that was recommended based on the number of cigarettes I had smoked a day. I found this to be entirely too much for me and soon began to lower the nicotine level in my e-liquid. At one point, however, I did relapse into smoking for a brief period before resuming my attempt at a long-term quit. After this lapse, I still used low nicotine e-liquid, and even alternate with some zero-nicotine e-liquids.
A Look at Vaping and Smoking – The Research
While some would rather sit and argue, research has proven that in a study of college students, vaping did not create a gateway effect. This study followed over three thousand collegiate freshman students to see if vaping at a baseline measurement would result in a progression to smoking, or if these students would have ever smoked in a follow up measurement. While the research did find that vape users were more likely to smoke at least once, they found that those who vaped at baseline were no more likely to progress to being a regular smoker than those who were not using e-cigarettes.
In fact, the research showed that many who had been vape users at baseline were no longer using vapes at the second measurement, and even more noteworthy, many dual users had stopped smoking and were only vaping at the follow up evaluation. Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, notes that “For nearly a decade, anti-harm reduction activists have been claiming that e-cigarette use would inevitably lead young people to become smokers. The data is proving them wrong. As this study shows, young e-cigarettes users may experiment with smoking, but that does not mean that these users are actually becoming smokers.”
I’ve found many to benefit from making the switch to vaping over traditional tobacco cigarettes, as a means of smoking cessation. I’ve seen vaping work in the complete opposite of a gateway, leading people away from smoking, and for me that speaks volumes. I’ve gone from someone who smoked over a pack a day in my early adulthood to someone who vapes at low to zero nicotine levels. I’ve lived it, and others have too. The research supports mine and others’ personal anecdotes. Vaping isn’t a gateway to tobacco. If anything, it can open the door to smoking cessation.