When I tell anyone I research e-cigarettes, they almost always come with an opinion about them. Some will be vapers themselves, and people who are almost without fail sing the praises of the device that finally helped them quit smoking. But often people who’ve never tried e-cigarettes will focus on the potential risks from using them, particularly whether they’re very likely to reintroduce smoking to a young generation who have been steadily shunning it in larger and larger numbers over recent decades. A particular fear is that younger people will test out e-cigarettes and that this will be a gateway in to smoking, along with fears around the harms from e-cigarettes themselves.
A newly released detailed study well over 60,000 UK 11-16 year olds found that younger people who experiment with e-cigarettes are generally those that already smoke cigarettes, and even then experimentation mostly doesn’t translate to regular use. Not just that, but smoking rates among young people in the united kingdom are still declining. Studies conducted currently investigating the gateway hypothesis that vaping leads to smoking have tended to check out whether having ever tried an e-cigarette predicts later smoking. But young people who experiment with e-cigarettes are going to be distinctive from those that don’t in lots of other ways – maybe they’re just more keen to consider risks, which may also increase the likelihood that they’d try out cigarettes too, no matter whether they’d used e-cigarettes.
Although you will find a small minority of younger people who do start to use best e cig website without previously as being a smoker, as yet there’s little evidence that the then increases the potential risk of them becoming cigarette smokers. Add to this reports from Public Health England that have concluded e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking, and you might think that would be the final from the fear surrounding them.
But e-cigarettes have really divided people health community, with researchers who have the common goal of lowering the levels of smoking and smoking-related harm suddenly finding themselves on opposite sides of the debate. This really is concerning, and partly because in a relative dearth of research on the devices exactly the same findings are used by each side to back up and criticise e-cigarettes. And all of this disagreement is playing outside in the media, meaning an unclear picture of what we understand (and don’t know) about e-cigarettes has been portrayed, with vapers feeling persecuted and those that have not attempted to quit mistakenly believing that there’s no reason for switching, as e-cigarettes might be just as harmful as smoking.
An unexpected consequence of this might be that it can make it harder to accomplish the research required to elucidate longer-term outcomes of e-cigarettes. And this is one thing we’re experiencing as we try and recruit for your current study. We have been conducting a research project funded by CRUK, where we’re collecting saliva samples from smokers, vapers and non-smokers. We’re taking a look at DNA methylation, a biological marker that influences gene expression. It’s been demonstrated that smokers use a distinct methylation profile, when compared with non-smokers, and it’s likely that these modifications in methylation might be connected to the increased risk of harm from smoking – for example cancer risk. Even if the methylation changes don’t make the increased risk, they may be a marker of this. We wish to compare the patterns observed in smokers and non-smokers with those of e-cigarette users, potentially giving us some insight in the long term impact of vaping, while not having to wait around for time for you to elapse. Methylation changes happen relatively quickly than the beginning of chronic illnesses.
Portion of the difficulty with this particular is the fact we understand that smokers and ex-smokers possess a distinct methylation pattern, and 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 this is proving challenging for just two reasons. Firstly, as borne out from the recent research, it’s rare for individuals who’ve never smoked cigarettes to consider up regular vaping. Yes, maybe they’ll experiment, but that doesn’t necessarily cause an electronic cigarette habit.
But on top of that, an unexpected problem has been the unwillingness of some within the vaping community to help us recruit. And they’re delay due to fears that whatever we find, the final results will be utilized to paint a negative picture of vaping, and vapers, by people with an agenda to push. I don’t desire to downplay the extreme helpfulness of lots of people in the vaping community in assisting us to recruit – thanks a lot, you know who you really are. But I was really disheartened to know that for a few, the misinformation and scaremongering around vaping has reached the point where they’re opting out from the research entirely. And after speaking to people directly concerning this, it’s difficult to criticize their reasoning. We now have also found that a number of e-cigarette retailers were resistant against putting up posters aiming cwctdr recruit people who’d never smoked, since they didn’t wish to be seen to be promoting e-cigarette utilization in people who’d never smoked, which can be again completely understandable and must be applauded.
So what can we do concerning this? Hopefully as more research is conducted, so we get clearer information on e-cigarettes capability to act as a smoking cessation tool, the disagreement around them will disappear. Until then, Hopefully vapers still agree to participate in research so we can fully explore the potential of these units, specifically those rare “unicorns” who vape but have never smoked, as they may be essential to helping us understand the impact of vaping, in comparison with smoking.