Is Vaping Safe? 1 in 5 Young Americans Think So.

October 1, 2019
Greg Guthrie, ASCO staff

An early release from the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO’s) 2019 National Cancer Opinion Survey has revealed that about 1 in 5 young adults in the United States uses e-cigarettes daily or recreationally.share on twitter Further analysis of the nationwide survey found that nearly 1 in 4 young adults views them as harmless and not addictive. Emerging news has underscored the dangers of using e-cigarettes, commonly called vaping, as has the report of rising rates of e-cigarette use among young adults from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Tobacco Survey. In December 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General declared e-cigarette use among youth an epidemic. Efforts are moving forward to ban the sales of flavored e-cigarettes at the state level and nationwide.

Despite this, some young adults remain unconvinced that vaping is harmful and that they should quit. Among Generation Z (ages 18 to 22) and Millennials (ages 23 to 38), the survey found:

  • 20% of Generation Z and 24% of Millennials believe e-cigarettes are harmless.

  • 22% of Generation Z and 24% of Millennials believe you cannot get addicted to e-cigarettes.

  • 27% of Generation Z and 29% of Millennials think flavored e-cigarettes are less damaging to your health than non-flavored e-cigarettes.

Further findings from the National Cancer Opinion Survey include:

  • 1 in 6 parents with children aged 9 to 17 says their children have tried e-cigarettes.

  • 7 in 10 Americans support raising the legal age to purchase e-cigarettes from 18 to 21.

  • 1 in 8 Americans reports using e-cigarettes regularly, and a majority of them (80%) currently smoke or have smoked traditional cigarettes in the past.

“There is no doubt that quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you are trying to quit, we recommend talking to your doctor about methods that are proven to work,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO. “No e-cigarette products are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as cessation aids, and more research to understand these products, the substances in them, and the acute and long-term effects of their use is urgently needed.”

The National Cancer Opinion Survey was established in 2017 by ASCO, in collaboration with The Harris Poll, to track the U.S. public’s views on cancer research and care. The poll, supported by the Mission Endowment of Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, is designed to be conducted every year to measure shifts in the public’s perceptions of a range of cancer-related issues over time. This survey was conducted online in the United States between July 9 and August 10, 2019. It included 4,001 U.S. adults who were 18 and older. Of the people who responded, 195 have or had cancer.