“Many teens who start with e-cigarettes may be condemned to struggling with a lifelong addiction to nicotine and conventional cigarettes,” CDC Director Tom Frieden worried. In a Medscape interview a few weeks later, Frieden suggested that fear had already materialized, asserting that “many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes.”
However, as Jacob Sullum reports, this is not a theory that stands up against the facts.
Yet the CDC’s data, which came from the 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), did not support that claim. In fact, nine out of 10 high school students who reported vaping in the previous month were already cigarette smokers, suggesting that the increase in e-cigarette consumption might signal successful harm reduction.
New evidence has fired another bullet into the gateway theory's zombified corpse..
Last week the CDC reported additional NYTS data that further undermine Frieden’s claim, showing that smoking among teenagers fell as vaping rose.
Between 2011 and 2012, when the share of middle school students who reported using e-cigarette in the previous month rose from 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent, the share reporting past-month consumption of conventional cigarettes fell from 4.3 percent to 3.5 percent. Among high school students, past-month e-cigarette use rose from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent, while past-month consumption of tobacco cigarettes fell from 15.8 percent to 14 percent. Although these trends do not necessarily mean e-cigarettes are responsible for the decline in smoking, the numbers hardly seem consistent with the story Frieden is eager to tell: that the availability of e-cigarettes is leading to more smoking than would otherwise occur.
Don't expect Glantz or his chums to bother mentioning any of this inconvenient information as they continue their jihad against vapers.