E-cigarettes represent probably the most polarising debate in contemporary public health, with some experts emphasising their potential value as a less harmful substitute for tobacco, while others express concern regarding their potential to renormalize smoking and to act as a gateway into nicotine addiction and smoking for young people. The first major national survey on young people’s e-cigarette use in Wales was published by DECIPHer researchers in BMJ Open this week http://bmjopen.bmj.com/
The article, led by DECIPHer Research Fellow Graham Moore, combined the CHETS Wales 2 survey and the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey. It showed that while experimentation with e-cigarettes is becoming widespread, with a similar prevalence to experimentation with tobacco, regular use of e-cigarettes remains uncommon, and occurs almost exclusively among smokers. E-cigarettes do however appear to have a somewhat more universal appeal than tobacco, with experimentation not predicted by key demographics usually associated with smoking, such as socioeconomic status.
Hence, there is currently little indication that e-cigarettes are getting young people addicted to nicotine, although there is evidence that experimentation with e-cigarettes is not limited to young people who would otherwise be using tobacco. The article has received widespread media interest; the lead author Graham Moore was interviewed by local, national and international media outlets including BBC Radio Wales, The Independent and the New York Times. Findings have also been reported in an article in New Scientist, and other media outlets across Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Australasia.