I See Your Emotion Based Argument On the Alleged ‘Teen Vape Epidemic’ And Raise It With the Facts!

With all the hysteria around the so called ‘teen vape epidemic‘ sometimes you need to step away from the emotional rhetoric and grab hold of those cold hard facts.

And that’s exactly what our friends over at the awesome Ashtray Blog have done and in particular vape science writing expert Lee Johnson.

Rather than go in all guns blazing he’s took a step back and taken a cool calm look at what the numbers say. The numbers in this case being the actual amount of young kids vaping and smoking. What he’s found should go along way to counter the claim kids are taking up vaping in their droves and triggering what some say is a ‘public health crisis’.

kids vaping

Whether the naysayers and anti-vape soccer mom fueled crowd will listen is doubtful – but his wondrously researched article: Teen Vaping: What the Numbers Say whilst already being shared across social media – really needs to be spread even further in the hope it may reach the ears and eyes of those politicians and other peddlers of fake vaping news and BS.

For the record the guys at E-cigarette Direct sent the article to us for our take on it and also said we were more than welcome to use the images – thank you. This more than anything shows that for most of us in vaping or vape advocacy it’s getting the truth behind the fake vape news out that’s more important than anything else.

Lee writes:

If there is an “epidemic” of teen vaping in the US, what is happening to the smoking rate? Is it non-smoking teens who vape, or is it mainly confined to smokers? How do vaping rates compare to things like drinking rates or illegal drug use rates?

What we need in this debate isn’t anger and knee-jerk reactions: it’s the data and an open mind.

So we’ve put together some key statistics about vaping and smoking in the UK, US and Australia, to take a look at the issue without putting on our ideological glasses. What does the data really tell us?

who are the kids that vape

As a former old-school ‘newspaper man’ I guess some – OK most lol – of my articles can shall we say be a little ‘angry’ and ‘opinionated’ to say the least. Whilst I do try to marry what I hope is readable and entertaining prose with the cold hard facts and data – I have to agree it’s extremely important to let the facts speak for themselves.

So for once…lol…I’ll lay out Lee’s carefully researched facts and add my take and twopence worth at the end 😉

BTW the data has been gleaned from various sources including the NHS – ASH – the US and Australian Government.

Smoking And Vaping Rates: UK Youngsters

Using the survey from the NHS: Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England – 2016 it shows:

  • There’s been a fall in the number of young people smoking regularly – classed as once per week or more
  • Occasional smoking – just once per week has remained constant
  • Number of those who have never smoked has also declined

teen uk smoking rates graph

Vaping Among Young People In the UK ‘Very Low’

The results of the ASH survey: Use Of Electronic Cigarettes Among Children In Great Britain and it shows:

  • An increase in vaping by young people as smoking rates drop
  • A ‘dramatic’ increase in under 18s ‘trying’ e-cigarettes
  • However – it’s a tiny increase in those who vape regularly

Smoking And Vaping Rates: US Youngsters

The data comes from the National Youth Tobacco Survey

    • Smoking in the past week has fallen by a whopping 58%
    • Those who have never smoked has dropped by 43%
    • Past week smoking is just 2.4%

us vaping rates among teens facts

Vaping Among Young People In the USA

  • Smoking rates have dropped significantly among young people at all levels
  • A rise in young people trying vaping from 2012 – those rates are now falling dramatically to around 20%
  • Dramatic fall in those occasionally vaping to around 5% [from 8%]
  • Regular young vapers dropped to around 3%

Smoking And Vaping Rates: Australian Youngsters

The data is from the: Australian Secondary Students Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, Over-the-Counter Drugs, and Illicit Substances survey

  • A 25% decline in young people smoking – significantly less than UK and US
  • 27% of youngsters have never smoked
  • Smoking in the past week is at 5%

australia smoking rates young people

Vaping Among Young People In Australia

Note: the stats from down under are tricky to interpret as vaping with nicotine is illegal – so figures could include zero nic vapers.

  • Weekly vaping in Australia among young people is just 1.7%
  • 0.1% of never smokers vaped regularly
  • 0.2% vaped daily
  • 2.7% of young smokers vaped regularly

Final Thoughts

To use the phrase your ‘emotions aren’t an argument‘ describes the article Lee has presented perfectly – simply put the facts don’t lie but emotions can and do.

In this case we clearly see a fall in young people taking up smoking whilst those that are smoking are turning to vaping to help them quit. Saying that even the numbers of young people vaping regularly after quitting are falling and so low as barely registered so most definitely NOT a sign of a teen vaping crisis.

Even that old chestnut ‘peer pressure’ seems to be a none argument here as the numbers trying vaping continues to fall.

As I always say whilst none of us want to see youngsters vaping OR smoking I’d rather see the kids come off all forms of lit tobacco and if e-cigarettes help them do that then that’s – to some extent – OK. Kids hooked on smoking are – and the data shows this – making thoughtful and some might say life changing choices despite the media and Government scare tactics…more power to them.

Great article and a great read and just a quick note on the alcohol and drug use by youngsters compared to the so called ‘vaping epidemic’.

Lee says:

In a nutshell, in all three countries, vaping is less common than drug use, and in the UK and Australia especially it is much less common than drinking alcohol.

As the grandad of a 10-year-old boy who isn’t that far from becoming a teenager, hand on heart I’d rather his rite of passage or rebellious act was to pick up a JUUL than a syringe or bottle of strong cider.

vaping vs drug use among young people

Strange how the focus – and the cries of ‘an epidemic’ particularly in the USA – has been centred on the relatively harmless e-cigarette and nicotine rather than the life and family destroying alcohol and drug addiction…

Things that make you go ummmm.

I urge you to read Lee’s full article: Teen Vaping: What the Numbers Say

Neil H
I began vaping over 7 years ago and found it easy to give up a 40 per day roll-up habit! DTL: Lost Vape DNA75C BF - Dead Rabbit SQ - MTL: JacVapour Sandstorm DNA 75 + Savour RTA...Beater set-up Lost Vape DNA 250c and Reload RTA I'm a former journalist and now a sort of writer and author.. I'm an Army veteran - adore dogs and never happier than with a good book on a beach.


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