Comprehensive Review Finds Teen Vaping Risks Are Greatly Exaggerated

A comprehensive review conducted by renowned anti-smoking researcher Professor Riccardo Polosa and colleagues, debunks fears that youth vaping may be causing an increase in youth smoking.

The review was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and concluded that the harm from teen vaping is greatly exaggerated. Discussing the findings on his blog page, renowned Australian tobacco harm reduction expert Dr. Colin Mendelsohn highlighted that the release of the review is timely given the regular alarmist media reports and government campaigns on vaping in Australia which have misinformed the public about the relative benefits and risks of vaping.

Conducted by award winning tobacco researcher Dr. Ricardo Polosa, the review analysed teen vaping rates in the US, where local authorities have repeatedly claimed that local consumption rates have reached epidemic proportions.

In the review commentary, Polosa highlights that of course young people should not vape, however he adds, despite what they are told by adults and the authorities, it is common knowledge that many will still binge drink, take illicit drugs and engage in other risky behaviours just as much.

The review looked into scientific studies indicating that vaping is significantly safer than smoking and found that while some researchers believe that vaping harms the lungs, many studies are flawed and incorrectly interpreted. Moreover, any respiratory symptoms linked to vaping “tend to be transient and of uncertain significance”.

The most commonly reported adverse effects added Polosa, are throat/mouth irritation, headache, cough and nausea, and these settle with continued use. While any reports associating vaping with asthma, fail to consider that any such association is more more likely to be related to present or past smoking.

Vaping among teens is likely a passing trend
In view of all the scientific data available on vaping, Polosa and his team concluded that any claims of a vaping being an epidemic are a huge exaggeration. Vaping rates in the US rose substantially over the last decade but dropped by 60% from 2019 to 2021, so not only is vaping likely a passing trend, but most vaping by young people is done by those who have smoked previously, in which case it is a positive switch.

Mendelsohn concluded his blog by encouraging Australians to view vaping more positively. “In fact, vaping by young people appears to be reducing the risk of taking up smoking, which is much more harmful. Some youth smokers are switching to the safer alternative and non-smokers try vaping as an alternative to deadly cigarette smoking. Overall, the public health impact of youth vaping may be positive. Australian parents should sleep better.”