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Transitions in electronic cigarette use among adults in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study, Waves 1 and 2 (2013–2015)
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  • Published on:
    The missing elephant in the room of vaping transition
    • Simon Chapman, emeritus professor of public health Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney
    • Other Contributors:
      • Matthew Peters, professor of respiratory medicine
      • Wasim Maziak, professor of epidemiology
      • Norbert Hirschhorn, physician

    NOT PEER REVIEWED
    Coleman et al’s important report [1] on transitions in the vaping and smoking status of a nationally representative cohort of American 18+ adults who use electronic cigarettes (EC) from the PATH study provides rich data that can greatly advance our understanding of the natural history of EC use and their potential in harm reduction.

    However, we were struck by the absence of emphasis in the report of what is perhaps its most important finding. If we examine the report’s data and consider the net impact of vaping on the critical goals of having vapers stopping smoking and vaping non-smokers not starting to smoke, the findings are very disturbing and should strong reason for pause among those advocating e-cigarettes as a game-changing way of stopping smoking.

    At Wave 2, 12 months on from Wave 1, of the cohort of 2036 dual users (EC + smoking) only 104 (5.1%) had transitioned to using only EC and another 143 (7%) had quit both EC and smoking for a combined total of 247 or 12.1%. Of the 896 exclusive EC users at Wave 1, 277 (30.9%) had stopped vaping at Wave 2. Together, 524 out of the 2932 EC users (17.9%) followed from Wave 1 might be considered to have had positive outcomes at Wave 2.

    The other side of the coin however, shows that of the 2036 dual users at Wave 1, 886 (43.5%) relapsed to using cigarettes exclusively. In addition, among the 896 exclusive EC users from Wave 1, 109 (12.2%) had stopped vaping and were now smoking, wit...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.