Study Claims Vaping Affects the Mental Health and Academic Performance of Teen Users. We Asked an Expert
A U.S. survey of 2,650 vaping and non-vaping teens, parents and high school teachers has concluded that vaping had a negative affect on users’ mental health and academic performance. In contrast, an ever growing body of research keeps indicating that nicotine has a positive affect on cognitive functions. What gives?
This study was allegedly conducted with the aim of forming a better understanding of the state of affairs with regards to teen vaping and its impact in schools. Whilst responses were gathered from parents, teachers as well as vaping and non vaping teens, data was also collected from over 20,000 US vape-detectors.
The compiled data led to the conclusion that vaping led to less time in class, less focus and lower academic performance. According to the study, vaping teens were also less engaged, and more likely to be depressed. Moreover most of those who vaped considered their habit an addiction and they were struggling to overcome it.
Last week, this survey was cited by multiple articles, most of which just regurgitated the “findings” without actually looking into them thoroughly. In fact, on reading the actual report, a very common mistake and pattern emerged. The researchers inferred a causation from a correlation. Nowhere in the study was there evidence that the vaping caused poor academic performance. There was only evidence of a link between the two variables.
Another flawed vape study
On discussing the study with tobacco treatment expert and researcher Dr. Colin Mendelsohn, he agreed that the findings were not reliable. Firstly, he emphasized there was an evident conflict of interest. The report was conducted “by a company that sells vape detectors and has a vested interest in creating a panic so I would be very cautious in citing any of the findings.”
Secondly, he confirmed, there was indeed no reliable evidence of causation. “I agree entirely with your comment that there is an association between mental health and academic performance, behaviour problems and vaping but nothing in this survey to suggest causation. Many studies have found that kids with mental illness, low academic achievement etc are more likely to vape. Vaping relieves stress and improves mood. In this survey 51% said they vape to relieve anxiety. The same findings apply to smoking.”
.there is an association between mental health and academic performance, behaviour problems and vaping but nothing in this survey to suggest causation. Many studies have found that kids with mental illness, low academic achievement etc are more likely to vape. Vaping relieves stress and improves mood.Dr. Colin Mendelsohn, Smoking Cessation Expert
Research has shown that actually nicotine has a positive effect on brain function
In fact, in contrast to the suggestions made by the report, multiple studies have indicated that nicotine has a very positive effect on people suffering cognitive impairments such as Dementia and Parkinson’s. This was discussed during a Keynote held at this year’s GFN23, “The role of nicotinic systems in brain disorders“, explaining the known therapeutic effects and uses of nicotine.
Psychiatrist and physician scientist, Professor Paul Newhouse, mentioned a pilot trial from the early 2000s, in which 74 non-smoking patients with mild cognitive impairment were given to give transdermal nicotine. He explained that the researchers witnessed an improvement in attention as well as a significant and sustained improvement to memory. Moreover nicotine seemed to also have an anti depressant effect, and no significant adverse effects. This study was followed by others, all reporting similar findings.
Meanwhile other research has shown that teen vaping has a lot to do with personality factors and other individual variables such as lifestyle. In fact those teens who vape are more likely than others to be inclined to smoke, drink and use other substances. These misunderstood behavioural patterns are what led to to the infamous Gateway Theory, the theory that vaping leads to smoking and even cannabis use. In turn this theory gave way to the moral panic about an alleged vaping epidemic and the subsequent fearmongering which keeps feeding it.