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The state of Virginia has been diehard tobacco country since the first settlers stepped off the Mayflower and settled in Jamestown in 1607. Even today, tobacco is the largest exported cash crop in the state. And while Big Tobacco and the e-cig industry are often viewed as opposing enemies in the War on Vaping, the Virginia legislature tends to remain almost adamantly neutral in its regulatory actions of both industries.
The Virginia state legislature has virtually zero anti-vaping laws on the books, and its waterside community of Virginia Beach is often rated as the vape-friendliest town in the United States.
(Related Article: VAPESCORE 2016: VIRGINIA BEACH RANKED VAPE-FRIENDLIEST U.S. CITY)
But Virginians also love their tobacco. The state spends only about ten percent of the CDC-recommended tax dollars on smoking prevention and has the second-lowest per-pack tobacco tax in the nation. And when Hawaii and California raised their legal smoking age to 21, many Virginians thought these actions were laugh-out-loud ridiculous.
If a group of scientists ever wanted to conduct a truly unbiased and thoroughly detailed study on vaping, smoking, or anything in between, Virginia is the perfect state. Just ask a group of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University whose recently published report thoroughly debunks the widespread claims of the FDA, the CDC, and hundreds of anti-tobacco groups that say vaping is a gateway to teen smoking.
THE VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY STUDY
The researchers followed some 3,757 college freshmen for an entire year to determine if e-cig use at the baseline led to either trying a tobacco cigarette at some point in the future or to perhaps developing a consistent, daily habit of smoking. The result is the “first-ever longitudinal study examining the progression of college students from vaping to smoking.”
Anti-vaping activists like Dr. Stanton Glantz from the University of California, San Francisco (where the legal vaping and smoking age is 21, coincidentally) zeroed in on one key phrase listed in the study’s conclusions section. According to the study, those students who were already actively vaping at the baseline were 3.4 times more likely to be smoking cigarettes after the one-year timeframe.
(Related Article: ETHICS IN SCIENCE: NEW STUDY WARNS AGAINST TELLING SMOKERS OF TOBACCO TOXICITY)
However, that wasn’t the most important finding. If Glantz were to be completely honest with his followers, he would have also mentioned that the Virginia Commonwealth University study also made the following, significantly-more-noteworthy discovery:
“CURRENT E-CIGARETTE USERS AT BASELINE WERE NO MORE LIKELY TO PROGRESS TO CURRENT SMOKING THAN YOUNG ADULTS WHO WERE NOT USING E-CIGARETTES.”
Pro-vaping advocate and professor at the Boston University School of Public Health Dr. Michael Siegel was quick to fire back at Glantz’s poor reporting skills.
“What this means is that all we know for sure about the young people who Dr. Glantz would have us believe have become smokers because of e-cigarettes is that they have at least once tried a cigarette, but that they have not smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days,” states Siegel. “So all these kids who Dr. Glantz would have us believe have been addicted to cancer sticks because of e-cigarettes are actually not current smokers.”
To put the study in even more startlingly accurate terminology, of the 3,757 students who participated in the Virginia Commonwealth University Study:
- Only six students eventually transitioned from e-cigs to smoking.
- Furthermore, 20 of the students who were already daily smokers at the baseline eventually quit smoking entirely within the one-year timeframe.
- And another 45 students who were dual users at the baseline were only vaping and not smoking at the very end of the study.
Says Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association, “For nearly a decade, anti-harm-reduction activists have been claiming that e-cigarette use would inevitably lead young people to become smokers. The data is proving them wrong. As this study shows, young e-cigarette users may experiment with smoking, but that does not mean that these users are actually becoming smokers.”