Whenever I tell anyone I research e-cigarettes, they almost always have an opinion about them. Some will be vapers themselves, and those who are will almost without fail sing the praises of the device that finally helped them stop smoking. But often people who’ve never tried e-cigarettes will focus on the potential risks from utilizing them, and in particular whether they’re likely to reintroduce smoking to a young generation who have been steadily shunning it in larger and larger numbers over recent decades. A certain fear is that young people will experiment with e-cigarettes and that this will be a gateway in to smoking, in addition to fears around the harms from e-cigarettes themselves.
A newly released detailed study of over 60,000 UK 11-16 year olds found that young people who test out e-cigarettes are often people who already smoke cigarettes, and also then experimentation mostly doesn’t translate to regular use. Not only that, but smoking rates among young adults throughout the uk continue to be declining. Studies conducted to date investigating the gateway hypothesis that vaping leads to smoking have tended to look at whether having ever tried an e-cigarette predicts later smoking. But young adults who try out e-cigarettes are going to be different from people who don’t in lots of different ways – maybe they’re just more keen to consider risks, which may also increase the likelihood that they’d experiment with cigarettes too, no matter whether they’d used e-cigarettes.
Although you can find a small minority of young adults that do begin to use e-cigarettes without previously as being a smoker, as yet there’s little evidence that this then increases the potential risk of them becoming E-Cig Reviews. Increase this reports from Public Health England that have concluded e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking, and you will think that would be the conclusion from the fear surrounding them.
But e-cigarettes have really divided the public health community, with researchers who may have the most popular purpose of reducing the degrees of smoking and smoking-related harm suddenly finding themselves on opposite sides in the debate. This is concerning, and partly because in a relative dearth of research on the devices the identical findings are being used by each side to support and criticise e-cigarettes. And all sorts of this disagreement is playing out in the media, meaning an unclear picture of the items we understand (and don’t know) about e-cigarettes has been portrayed, with vapers feeling persecuted and those that have not made an effort to quit mistakenly believing that there’s no part of switching, as e-cigarettes may be just like harmful as smoking.
An unexpected consequence of this could be that it causes it to be harder to do the research necessary to elucidate longer-term outcomes of e-cigarettes. Which is a thing we’re experiencing while we try and recruit for our current study. We are performing a research project funded by CRUK, where we’re collecting saliva samples from smokers, vapers and non-smokers. We’re looking at DNA methylation, a biological marker that influences gene expression. It’s been demonstrated that smokers have a distinct methylation profile, compared to non-smokers, and it’s possible that these alterations in methylation might be connected to the increased probability of harm from smoking – as an example cancer risk. Even when the methylation changes don’t cause the increased risk, they might be a marker from it. We wish to compare the patterns observed in smokers and non-smokers with the ones from e-cigarette users, potentially giving us some insight in the long-term impact of vaping, without having to wait for time to elapse. Methylation changes happen relatively quickly than the start of chronic illnesses.
Part of the difficulty with this is the fact that we know that smokers and ex-smokers have a distinct methylation pattern, so we don’t want this clouding any pattern from vaping, which means we need to recruit vapers who’ve never (or certainly only hardly ever) smoked. And also this is proving challenging for two reasons. Firstly, as borne out from the recent research, it’s very rare for folks who’ve never smoked cigarettes to take up regular vaping. Yes, maybe they’ll experiment, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to an e-cigarette habit.
But in addition to that, an unexpected problem has become the unwillingness of some inside the vaping community to help us recruit. And they’re postpone as a result of fears that whatever we find, the results will be used to paint a negative picture of vaping, and vapers, by people with an agenda to push. I don’t want to downplay the extreme helpfulness of lots of kbajyo inside the vaping community in assisting us to recruit – thanks, you understand who you really are. Having Said That I was really disheartened to learn that for some, the misinformation and scaremongering around vaping has reached the stage where they’re opting from the research entirely. And after talking to people directly about this, it’s tough to criticize their reasoning. We have also discovered that numerous electronic cigarette retailers were resistant to placing posters hoping to recruit people who’d never smoked, as they didn’t want to be seen to become promoting electronic cigarette use within people who’d never smoked, that is again completely understandable and should be applauded.
Exactly what can perform concerning this? I hope that as more research is conducted, and that we get clearer information about e-cigarettes ability to serve as a smoking cessation tool, the disagreement around them will disappear. Until then, Hopefully vapers carry on and agree to participate in research so that we can fully explore the potential for these products, particularly those rare “unicorns” who vape but have never smoked, as they may be essential to helping us comprehend the impact of vaping, as compared to smoking.