Sometimes we just despair for the human species. Perhaps it might be time for us to resign and make way for intelligent life. Such is our reaction to this latest report about electronic cigarettes:
E-cigarettes need to be more strictly controlled to stop teenagers using them, health professionals have argued.
The call was prompted by new research showing that 19% of 14-17 year olds have tried the products despite them only becoming available in recent years.
An analysis by researchers at Liverpool John Moores University found that the e-cigarettes were used by 5% of teenagers who had never smoked, 50% of former smokers and 67% of light smokers.
Or as the BBC reported:
Many teenagers, even those who have never smoked, are experimenting with e-cigarettes, researchers in north-west England say.
Questionnaires completed by 16,193 14 to 17-year-olds, published in BMC Public Health, showed one in five had tried or bought e-cigarettes.
The researchers said e-cigarettes were the "alcopops of the nicotine world" and needed tougher controls.
The truth is, of course, that these results show that electronic cigarettes are an entirely marvelous product that are likely to save many lives in the future. Yes, lots of teenagers are using them. But what is the effect of their using them? As one of us has pointed out elsewhere:
That halving of teen smoking rates coincides with the invention and introduction of vaping (overlaps at least, the first devices really came in 2007). And other studies show very much the same thing. People use vaping equipment instead of smoking, not as a gateway to it nor does vaping increase smoking prevalence. It is thus a substitute, not a complement. As such of course it is to be greatly welcomed.
Electronic cigarettes lead to less smoking of cigarettes. Thus, far from our wondering about whether we ought to regulate them more the actual discussion should be about whether they are quite so wonderful that we ought to be subsidising them.