(Thanks to Aaron Frazier who pointed the way to a post by Sylvain Filatriau).
A new study out of Paris is about as badly (falsely) titled as this post about it.
In the Open Journal of Respiratory Diseases, Dautzenberg et al. author a study called E-Cigarette: A New Tobacco Product for Schoolchildren in Paris. What I learned from this title was that 1. e-cigarettes are a tobacco product! and 2. e-cigarettes are produced for schoolchildren in Paris!
Actually, the article is a little more restrained than the title.
3409 Paris school children were asked “have you ever tried an e-cigarette?” Fair enough but this does not distinguish among those who tried one puff and handed it back and those who, if there were any, were daily users. The results as reported:
277 (8.1%) of the 3409 schoolchildren studied (including 575 non responders to this question) reported having had an experience with e-cigarette. Experimentation rate is 6.4% among the 12 – 14-year-old, 11.8% among the 15 – 16-year-old and 9% among the 17-year-old schoolchildren. Among the 12 – 14- year-old schoolchildren, 64.4% of e-cigarette experimentation was by non-smokers. Of the 17-year-old teenagers who had used e-cigarettes, 12.4% were non-smokers. For the whole population, 33.2% of those having tried e-cigarette are non-smoker, 22.7% occasional smoker, 3.6% ex-smoker and 40.4% daily smoker. Those who experiment cannabis, shisha or binge-drinking are more frequently users of e-cigarette.
What Dautzenberg et al. concluded from this was:
Conclusion: For teenager’s, e-cigarettes have become not a product to aid quit tobacco but a product for experimentation and initiation of cigarette use. Regulation is urgently needed to control the emergent use of this new tobacco product by children.
What I learned from this was that the authors were able to determine without any longitudinal arm in their study that the e-cigarette experimenters were going to end up as cigarette smokers. Again, wow!
But I have to question why any product would serve as a quitting aid for people who are not at the stage of life where they are quitting anything. And as for there being a link between using cannabis, shisha, binge drinking and e-cigarettes – the simplest observation could be summed up as “those kids who like to try some new things will try other new things”.
Concluding that regulation is required to limit the exposure of children to nicotine products is something that everyone pretty well agrees on and in many places this is either already the case. Where it is not actually on the books, most vendors restrict their sales to adults.
Overall though it is no surprise that experimentation of youth with e-cigarettes will grow as they gain popularity in general. Kids will try everything that is out there whether is it e-cigarettes, their parents’ Nicorette, or even their parents’ cars.
Successful harm reduction applies to experimentation too. Better that kids try something that is 99% safer instead of cigarettes. And if a child is going to take up smoking anyway, the earlier they switch to a safer product the better.
These experimentations do not justify limiting availability of the product to legitimate users. The state has no right interfering with my joy of drinking Scotch because some kid steals from their parent’s liquor cabinet or my nicotine because some child steals a cigarette from their older brother.