New Trend: Smoking Vape Can Gain More Initiation Than Cigarettes



More young people are initiating nicotine use through vape rather than traditional cigarettes. New research conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) reveals that for the first time. This significant shift in tobacco consumption patterns has been observed in the 18 to 24 age group, with a growing number of individuals who have never smoked cigarettes opting for vaping instead.



Vape and Cigarette Transformative Trends

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researcher Benjamin Toll, who is also the director of the MUSC Health Tobacco Treatment Program, emphasizes the transformative nature of this trend. He states, “We now have a shift such that there are more ‘never smokers’ who vape than established smokers. These ‘never smokers’ are unlikely to start smoking combustible cigarettes—they’re likely to vape and keep vaping. And it’s this group, ages 18 to 24, who are going to forecast future vaping users.”

The research team collected data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, a nationwide longitudinal survey conducted in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The survey, which began in 2013, has provided valuable insights through six waves of data collection.

To complete their study, the researchers were granted access to the restricted data of the sixth wave, comprising survey responses from 2021, before its public release. The analysis of this data confirmed an ongoing upward trend in vape, particularly among young adults.

Notably, a majority of young adults, accounting for 56 percent, who frequently vape disclosed that they had never regularly smoked cigarettes.

According to the PATH Study, 14.5 percent of individuals aged 18 to 24 reported regular vape usage, a higher figure than the 11 percent previously reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Toll anticipates that the release of the next wave of PATH Study data in the fall of 2024 will demonstrate a further escalation in these statistics.

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