Common Misperceptions about Vaping among UK Smokers
According to the research from King’s College London, British smokers and former smokers overestimate the dangers of e-cigarettes, with less than 60 percent accurately believing that vaping is less harmful than smoking. Misperceptions about vaping seem to be on the rise, especially among smokers and those who have never tried vaping.
The Research, funded by Cancer Research UK, was published in the journal Addiction. The study used an Ipsos Mori survey of 1,720 British smokers and former smokers. To assess their knowledge about nicotine and the relative risks of smoking, e-cigarettes, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
“More than half of long-term smokers die from smoking. But few people are aware that nicotine is not a direct cause of smoking-related death and disease. We found that people who believe that nicotine is to blame for harms of smoking more tend to believe that e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy are just as harmful as smoking.” said Dr. Leonie Brose. The lead researcher, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience.
Only 57.3 percent correctly said e-cigarettes were less harmful than smoking, 21.8 percent thought they were equally harmful, 3.3 percent thought they were more harmful and 17.6 percent didn’t know when they are asked about the relative harm of e-cigarettes and cigarettes. For NRT, 63.4 percent said it was less harmful compared with smoking.
Previous research by the team has shown that the percentage of people with accurate knowledge is falling. In 2012, 66.6 percent said e-cigarettes were less harmful than smoking. In 2014, 60.4 percent and in 2017, 57.3 percent. Meanwhile, the percentage of people who believe that tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes are equally harmful is rising. From 9 percent in 2012 to 16.9 percent in 2014 and 21.8 percent in 2017.
The authors noted that the study’s findings may not fully represent the general smoking population though efforts were made to ensure that participants represented different demographics.
People’s knowledge about nicotine was very poor. With nearly nine in ten wrongly attributing most of the risk in smoking to nicotine and nearly four in ten wrongly thinking that it is nicotine that causes cancer.
Smokers who have never used e-cigarettes tend to have misunderstandings about nicotine. The relative harms of e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy when compared with cigarettes. However, smokers who have tried e-cigarettes or vaped regularly were more likely to say that a small percentage of the health risks in cigarettes come from nicotine.
“Smokers may not try e-cigarettes or NRT because of misperceptions about vaping and nicotine. Much public discussion and media coverage has focused on the dangers of e-cigarettes. But we have seen very little about how smoking can be deadly—in England alone, 1,500 people die from smoking-related diseases per week. Correcting the misconceptions about nicotine can help smokers switch to less harmful nicotine delivery methods,” Dr. Bross said.
Previous research from the team has found that smokers who believe e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes are more likely to try them. The researchers are planning a study to see whether they can change smokers’ behaviors. By correcting their misperceptions about vaping, nicotine and smoking.
To Sum Up
Professor Linda Bauld, a prevention expert at Cancer Research UK, said: “While nicotine is highly addictive, it is the cocktail of 5000 different chemicals that are released during smoking and can damage our DNA and cause cancer.
Nicotine products have been proven to help smokers quit. They are most effective combined with behavioral support from Stop Smoking Services. It is very important for smokers who want to quit smoking to have accurate information in order to find the best way to quit.” In response to the new study, Tobacco Control Lead at Public Health England, Martin Dockrell said: “There is still much work to be done to convince smokers that while e-cigarettes are not free of risk, they are far less harmful than cigarettes. If you are a smoker, switching to vaping could save your life.”
Ryan is a writer, editor and content creator who spends most of his time bringing the interesting, entertaining, original and well-written articles to vapers. He believes that vaping is not only a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a great experience of life.