BETHESDA, Md., March 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Avoiding or reducing the harm of tobacco cigarettes is the top reason youth vape, according to data from a survey by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and analyzed by PinneyAssociates. Almost 90% of 418 adolescents (ages 12-17) who used vapor products in the past month said that "they might be less harmful to me than cigarettes" or "they might be less harmful to people around me than cigarettes."
Saul Shiffman, PhD, Senior Scientific Advisor to PinneyAssociates and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, will present this analysis on 10 March 2017 at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco in Florence, Italy. PinneyAssociates reached their conclusion after analyzing data from Wave I of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH), which encompassed more than 13,000 adolescents who completed an in-home interview between September 2013 and December 2014.
The Pinney analysis rebuts a research letter in JAMA, in which this same dataset was used to argue that "because e-cigarettes come in flavors I like" was the number one reason youth use these products. Dr. Shiffman's presentation argues that by not combining responses citing harm reduction, the earlier analysis overemphasized the comparative role of flavors in youth vaping decisions.
"Almost 90% of youth vapers surveyed by the NIH and FDA endorsed reducing the harm of tobacco cigarettes as their reason for choosing e-cigarettes – significantly more than the 81% who cited availability of flavors," stated Dr. Shiffman. "In fact, among the teens who said flavors were important, fully 92% also said harm reduction was their motive for vaping. Flavors play a role in youth experimentation with e-cigarettes, but this analysis underscores that the much lower harm of vaping compared to smoking cigarettes is a far more important factor."
Youth trial and use of vapor products has often been at the center of a contentious ongoing debate on their potential opportunity to reduce the premature death and disability caused by cigarette smoking. In December 2016, the US Surgeon General issued a report declaring that "E-cigarette use among U.S. youth and young adults is now a major public health concern." (p. vii).
In contrast, experts and authoritative bodies in the UK (e.g., Public Health England, Cancer Research UK, Royal College of Physicians) have endorsed vaping as a tool to help current smokers switch away from combustion cigarettes.
"These data show that even teens who are using e-cigarettes are motivated by harm reduction. Use of any tobacco or nicotine product by teens should be strongly discouraged, but it's important that our thinking balance concerns about this use with the potential benefits of vaping for smokers who want to reduce their harm," Dr. Shiffman concludes.
PinneyAssociates is a pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare consulting company that helps clients to reduce their regulatory risk and enhance the commercial value of their life sciences products. PinneyAssociates consults with pharmaceutical companies that market a wide variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications. PinneyAssociates' experts have extensive expertise in abuse-deterrent drug formulation evaluation, abuse potential assessment, as well as pharmaceutical risk management, Rx-to-OTC switch, and tobacco harm reduction.
For the past 25 years, PinneyAssociates has worked to minimize the death and disease associated with smoking conventional cigarettes. Our efforts have included helping smokers gain greater access to nicotine replacement therapies by facilitating over the counter availability of these products, as well as tireless advocacy for regulations, policies, and products that facilitate smoking cessation and harm minimization. Our current work on smoking cessation and reduced risk tobacco products is exclusively with Reynolds American Inc.; and extends these goals by focusing PinneyAssociates' efforts on increasing smokers' access to non-combustible forms of nicotine delivery with a continued commitment to reducing the devastating impact of smoking on public health. We do not work on RAI's conventional cigarettes.