The study suggests one in five students aged 14-17 had bought or tried e-cigarettes and of these, one in 20 had never smoked conventional cigarettes before.
That means that only one per cent of EVP users had never smoked before and the report does not show whether these teenagers become long term users of e-cigarettes, or whether they had used the devices to help them give up traditional tobacco smoking.
Fontem Ventures have always believed that EVPs are an ‘adult only’ category, and should not be positioned towards children. It has established its own marketing guidelines to ensure that EVP products are not being targeted at children or non-smokers, and has argued against obviously child-focused flavours, like bubblegum, or packaging and presentation that attracts children.
A number of experts such as Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Barts and the London School of Medicine have suggested that youngsters experimenting with EVPs is not a cause for concern where it replaces experimenting with tobacco products and that EVPs are not acting as a ‘gateway’ to smoking for either adults or children.
Work done by Action on Smoking and Health in the UK showed that only a very small minority of EVP users are children, but that virtually all of these were children who had already started smoking. Consequently, the number of non-smoking children or young adults who seem to be vaping is so small as to be almost impossible to find.
Marc Michelsen, Director of Communications and Public Affairs at Fontem Ventures, said: “Survey after survey – from the US Center for Disease Control, to Action on Smoking and Health and the Smoking Toolkit Study from the UK’s Department of Health shows that the use of EVPs by non-smokers is, to quote the UK Department of Health, ‘extremely rare’. ASH estimate less than 0.5% of EVP users are ‘never smokers’. Of course, that does not mean we should loosen or relax the adult-only positioning of the EVP category. As politicians are currently looking at how best to regulate the sector, we argue for extremely vigilance in marketing, packaging and flavours so that EVPs never appeal to children”.
There is a growing consensus of scientific opinion – such as Professor Robert West at University College London, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and former member of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Gerry Stimson, which has now concluded that the potential public health benefits of EVPs outweigh any risks.