Officials in a Wisconsin county are reporting a large drop in the student smoking and vaping rates, suggesting that electronic cigarettes are not creating an addiction problem among youths.
The Monroe County Health Department revealed that teens in the area are largely turning away from tobacco and nicotine products. The number of teens smoking cigarettes fell to 12 percent in 2017, down from 19 percent in 2011, while the share of students vaping fell from 12 percent in 2015 to 8 percent in 2017, reports The Tomah Journal.
The local health report mirrors data on tobacco control and vaping from other states, proving fears that vaping is serving as a “gateway” to smoking are largely unfounded.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released data Sept. 27 showing that among teens in the state, the smoking rate declined from 9.3 percent to 8 percent between 2015 and 2016, figures that include anyone who smoked at least one cigarette each month. Youth vaping in North Carolina plummeted in 2016 from 16.8 percent to 11.3 percent.
These drops come amid an alarmist push by health regulators to clamp down on vaping by spreading the debunked notion that vapor products are creating a public health crisis among American youths.
Nationally, the number of teens using any tobacco product declined from 4.7 million to 3.9 million and the number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the broader population, Americans are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, according to federal data showing that former smokers made up 34 percent of all vapers in 2016.
A paper released Sept. 28 by the free-market think tank R Street Institute reveals that the overall vaping population in the U.S. declined for the second straight year in 2016, while the share of the population that are former smokers increased, rising from 2.49 million to 2.62 million Americans in 2016.
“87 percent of former smokers currently using e-cigarettes quit in the last five years, suggesting that e-cigarettes played a significant role,” Dr. Brad Rodu, a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville, wrote in the paper. “Health advocates should applaud these former smokers’ choice of e-cigarettes over far more dangerous cigarettes.”
E-cigarettes eliminate up to 95 percent of the health risks associated with cigarettes, because the majority of disease-causing chemicals are only released through combustion, according to Public Health England, an arm of the U.K.’s Department of Health.
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