Monday, 10 March 2014

Vapers create vapers, smokers create smokers: Think of the children!

Would you rather see your kids smoking?
Photo credit: James Alby via photopin cc
Another one of the anti-e-cigarette movements favourite arguments at the moment is that we need to think of the children. They seem to be loosing a lot of sleep worrying about kids taking up vaping, believing this is a safer alternative to smoking. So let's do that for a moment shall we, think of the children I mean. First lets start with looking on the main reasons young people start smoking:
  • Their parents are smoking
  • Peer-pressure 
  • Stress relief
  • Rebellion and showing independence
  • Mimicking the behaviour of people around them
  • Smoking to look cool
  • Smoking to look older
  • Experimenting and adventure
How will the availability of e-cigarettes and vaping affect this? Well actually they can all be applied to vaping as well. So if parents are vaping, there is a chance their kids will, peer-pressure from other young vapers will exist, they might use vaping as stress relief, to rebel against parents and so on. So we will have young people that start vaping without smoking first. But think about this... if a teenager starts vaping because his or her parents are vaping, wouldn't the same teenager have started smoking if the parents were smoking? If stress relief was the main reason for starting to vape, wouldn't the alternative be smoking? If your kids wants to experiment, would you rather have them experiment with vaping or smoking? The point is that these reasons will not go away if you remove vaping, but vaping will be an alternative for young people that would otherwise start smoking. By demonizing vaping, young people would start smoking instead. Cause their parents would be smokers instead of vapers, their friends would experiment with smoking instead of vaping, they would use smoking to fit in socially instead of vaping or they would light up a cigarette to look cool instead of pulling out their e-cig.

The important point here, that seems to be missed by most anti e-cigarette advocates, is that e-cigarettes and vaping replaces smoking. Not only for smokers but also for young people that would otherwise have started smoking. If a teenager is mimicking other vapers around them, it is because there are less  smokers around them to mimic. So yes, we will have young people that starts vaping without smoking first, but most of these people would have gone straight to smoking instead if vaping wasn't an alternative. I say most people, because there might be people that wouldn't have started smoking, but starts vaping because of the reasons above combined with their belief that vaping is safe. But this won't kill them! However restricting e-cigarette use and advertising will kill a lot of people. So what is most important? Making sure that no-one picks up a relatively harmless habit of vaping unnecessarily or making sure that as few as possible picks up the deadly habit of smoking?

Not only does vaping replace smoking but in most cases it gives the user something more in addition. And that is what makes them more effective than any other smoking cessation product (read my post on this here:, but also what makes the gateway argument invalid. The reason people struggle to go from smoking to nicotine gum, is the same reason that people would "struggle" to go from vaping to smoking. It would take something away.

To all the e-cigarette sceptics out there: Vaping adults will lead to kids vaping, smoking adults will lead to kids smoking. What would you rather have your kid doing, vaping or smoking? Think of the children!


  1. It should be noted also that the nicotine in vapor is a lot less addictive than all the carcinogens and chemicals in cigarettes, so it can be argued that even if kids pick up vaping, it will be a lot easier for them to quit it than it would be for them to quit vaping. Ex smokers turned vapers know this already... most aren't able to replace smoking with vaping overnight, but have to go through the process of withdrawal from the carcinogens and chemicals in cigarettes, usually resulting in the need to cut down smoking gradually. And vapers still deal with cigarette cravings afterwards. The mechanism that keeps them from smoking again isn't complete fulfillment from vaping, but that vaping makes it just a little bit easier enough for most to resist the cravings.

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