If you sip a beer when you are a teenager, are you going to become a raging alcoholic? You are according to the logic of anti-smoking activists who won the war on cigarettes and need a one place to use their army - and their funding.

Cigarette smoking has plummeted, which is what we have all wanted, and part of the reason for that is smoking cessation tools, like gums, patches, smokeless tobacco and things like e-cigarettes. Those are also used for harm reduction; smoking is as uncool as can be these days, so from a health point of view every cigarette not smoked is a win. They work because nicotine is addictive, like caffeine and alcohol, so providing that stimulus without the toxins is good.

Yet another new paper is claiming that if a teen tries an e-cigarette, they will become a smoker. Why? Because they surveyed teens who tried e-cigarettes and became smokers. Twenty years ago, these teens just became smokers, and there are a lot fewer of them, so the numbers don't add up to the concern that is being promoted, but FDA has already crippled vaping by mandating that all products in the last 10 years need to go through expensive registration, something only Big Tobacco and Big Pharma will be able to afford. 

The conclusion in Tobacco Control was made using  a follow up sample of 347 out of 822 originally targeted 12th graders (17-18 year olds), who had been randomly selected from a representative (Monitoring the Future) survey of more than 13,000 12th graders from 122 schools, in 2014. That's a weakness, but using a survey was already a big red flag. In its follow up one year later teens were also asked  about substance use, including vaping and conventional cigarette smoking.

Analysis of the responses showed that e-cigarettes were one of the most popular substances that the teens said they used, and the prevalence of recent vaping (within the past 30 days) was around 50% higher than it was for conventional smoking. Which is to say they had tried it one time. No surprise, most of the respondents knew cigarette smoking was harmful, with 80% in both the 2014 and follow up surveys feeling that one or more packs daily posed a 'great risk.'

The concern was that teens who had never smoked a cigarette before reaching 12th grade, but who had used an e-cigarette at least once within the past 30 days, were more than four times as likely to say that they had smoked a cigarette by the follow up survey (31%) as those who hadn't vaped (7%). Yet all the new smokers who were also recent vapers said they had smoked only 'once or twice' during the preceding 12 months so they weren't really smokers. They are not hooked on cigarettes.

Among smokers at the time of the 2014 survey, the prevalence of smoking during the preceding 12 months was more than twice as high among teens who were also vapers in 2014 (80%) than it was among those who weren't (37%). That is confusing statistical speak for the fact that those who had not quit completely reported using e-cigarettes as alternatives.

Activists are going to ring the alarm about that, but e-cigarettes are simply not harmful. It is a nicotine vapor and our lungs have been biologically engineered to knock out trace levels of any toxins. It truly takes actual cigarette smoke, or the equivalent of living with a chimney in your home, to overwhelm the lungs.

Despite knowing that, government groups and those they fund have declared a War on Fun, even as they put a health halo on top of marijuana. Which is smoked.