Do e-cig­a­rettes re­duce teen smok­ing?

Times Standard (Eureka) - - NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON >> In al­most any other year it would be hailed as a pub­lic health vic­tory: The smok­ing rate among U.S. high school­ers took its big­gest hit ever this year, fed­eral fig­ures show, fall­ing to a new low.

In­stead the mile­stone was rel­e­gated to a lone fig­ure at the bot­tom of a gov­ern­ment press re­lease and went un­re­marked by anti-to­bacco groups that have spent decades work­ing to stamp out youth smok­ing.

It’s a new era in the to­bacco wars — one in which the alarm­ing rise of un­der­age va­p­ing has al­most com­pletely over­shad­owed a par­al­lel drop in tra­di­tional smok­ing. And the piv­otal ques­tion of whether elec­tronic cig­a­rettes are in­ad­ver­tently help­ing to wipe out smok­ing among young peo­ple has be­come a po­lar­iz­ing topic: em­braced by some ex­perts, dis­missed by oth­ers.

“Smok­ing is dis­ap­pear­ing among young peo­ple and it’s a great pub­lic health tri­umph that we are fail­ing to cel­e­brate, much less even note,” says Ken­neth Warner, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan’s school of pub­lic health.

E-cig­a­rettes typ­i­cally heat a so­lu­tion that con­tains nico­tine, the drug that makes to­bacco ad­dic­tive. They are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered less harm­ful than can­cer­caus­ing tra­di­tional cig­a­rettes. But there is lit­tle long-term re­search on the health ef­fects of va­p­ing.

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