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E-cigarettes attract low risk adolescents to smoking, say researchers

BMJ 2017; 356 doi: (Published 24 January 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;356:j368

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Re: E-cigarettes attract low risk adolescents to smoking, say researchers

The title of this piece misreports the findings in the paper. The study detected no increase in youth smoking, on the contrary, the continuous decline in smoking shows that e-cigarettes are not expanding smoking. It also provides no information that non-smokers become vapers and then move on to smoking.

The statement that ‘E-cigarette-only users would be unlikely to have initiated tobacco product use with cigarettes’ makes no sense because e-cigarette only users have not initiated any tobacco product use!

If the authors mean by this that they initiated nicotine use, this is unlikely. Studies that assessed frequency of use report that as with non-smokers who try nicotine replacement products such as nicotine chewing gum, it is extremely rare for non-smokers who try vaping to progress to regular use. While some smokers find e-cigarette satisfactory and switch to vaping, the majority of non-smokers who experiment with e-cigarettes only try them once or twice and virtually none progress to daily use. There is no evidence that e-cigarettes attract non-smoking adolescent to regular vaping, let alone to smoking.

The misleading headline should be corrected.

Competing interests: No competing interests

26 January 2017
Peter Hajek
Professor of Clinical Psychology