Sanford researcher says vaping not a gateway to smoking

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — While South Dakota state law will longer makes distinctions between cigarette smoking and vaping when it comes to public places, a Sanford Research scientist says it’s more complicated than that.
Results from her new study are going against some of the conventional wisdom when it comes to electronic cigarettes.

When e-cigarettes first came on the market about a decade ago, they were touted as a safe alternative to tobacco. But because e-cigarettes are still such a new product, researchers are only now starting to get a handle on the effects of vaping, especially among teenagers. And a Sanford scientist says her research shows vaping isn’t the gateway to smoking that many people may assume.

Vaping has become a full-blown frenzy among users who are lighting up, electronically. As many as one-in-five teens are vaping.

“The reason that e-cigarettes are alarming a lot of people is because of the drastic increase over the last couple of years,” Sanford Research scientist Arielle Selya said.

But Sanford Research scientist Arielle Selya says you need to do a deeper dive into the data to get a fuller picture of teen vaping. National surveys show that many teen vapers go onto smoke regular cigarettes. But Selya says many of those teens would have become smokers anyway, regardless of whether they tried vaping first.

“There might be a pre-existing propensity for tobacco use among those kids,” Selya said.

Selya acknowledges that her findings go against the conventional wisdom that says vaping is a gateway to smoking. But she says other risk factors like parents’ and friends’ tobacco use and mental health issues like depression are also important indicators.

E-cigarette manufacturers also claim that their products can help smokers kick the tobacco habit. But even there, the research is pretty thin regarding that claim.

“They aren’t FDA approved and they aren’t supported by the U.S. Preventative Task Force as a cessation aid because there’s limited research,” Sanford Cancer Outreach Coordinator Shannon Park said.

Researchers like Selya say more data needs to be collected in order clear the air scientifically when it comes to vaping.

Selya says research also shows that in many states that have restricted use of e-cigarettes, those laws are actually driving vapers to smoking tobacco.

If you’d like to take a closer look at her findings, click here

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