Vaping and the Smoking Gateway Theory

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Is vaping a steppingstone for people to become addicted to smoking? For a lot of people, the answer is an obvious one. Those who have a stake in the matter will likely feel strongly one way or another. Those who vape say that it isn’t a gateway drug, as they don’t want to demonize their own habit. These who oppose smoking and vaping often say that it is a gateway activity and that those who vape are more likely to start smoking later in life.

Let’s look the research and the facts, though, to determine what the truth is.

There have been a lot of studies conducted about the correlation between vaping and smoking and how one may lead to another, regularly publish articles on the pros and cons of vaping. What the research has shown unequivocally is that a lot of smokers are quitting their habit and taking up vaping instead. So, does that mean that smoking is a gateway drug to vaping? The answer is not a cut and dried one.

You see, a lot of people who have been smoking for a while are looking for something healthier to do. They can’t quit their nicotine habit outright, so instead they go to the safer activity of vaping. They can still get their nicotine fix here, but they are exposed to fewer carcinogens and harmful chemicals. They aren’t inhaling smoke, and that means they are enjoying something far safer.

What about those who started vaping, though, and then went on to smoke? The research shows little of that happening. It seems that those who vape are content to continue doing so and are not looking for the kind of experience that smoking offers them. After all, a lot of people vape because they know it is safer than smoking and the smoking industry has suffered over the past decade or so as its social clout and public image has disintegrated. Now, smokers are looked down on by a lot of people, and they are feeling that disdain that others have for them. Many of those who vape are hesitant to try smoking because of the negative image people have of that activity.

Of course, they are likely also aware of how much more dangerous vaping can be. The fear of having tar-covered lungs or suffering from throat or lung cancer may be enough to dissuade large numbers of them to abstain from smoking altogether. That’s not say that some people don’t go from vaping to smoking, but this doesn’t happen in such alarming numbers as to suggest that there is a trend.

The biggest fear from those who believe in such a trend is that they think young people will be attracted to vaping and then want to go from there to the more dangerous activity of cigarette smoking. They make arguments that the bright and attractive flavors that e-cigs are known for will draw in the youth in ways that smoking never could. These-liquids, they say, are like candy to them, and their fruity and dessert flavors are appealing to young people who want to try something sweet.

While that appeal may be there, it’s obvious that e-cigs are not being marketed to children, nor are kids picking up the vaping habit the same way they picked up the smoking habit 20 years ago. In fact, while vaping is increasing among youth, cigarette smoking is dropping, which suggests that there is no trend to show that kids go from vaping to smoking.

Trends can change over time, of course, and new, dangerous ones may emerge, but for no those concerned that e-cigs will be a gateway activity to smoking, especially for the younger generation, need not worry themselves.The research shows that vaping is safer than smoking and doesn’t generally lead to the use of harder drugs.