Over 2 in 5 adults in Britain believe that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes and that vaping, overall, is much better for people’s health, according to the results of a new survey on behalf of leading British online vaping retailer Electric Tobacconist.
In a poll of 2,134 GB adults conducted by YouGov, people were asked for their perceptions about e-cigarettes. Respondents were advised that “smoking” included all products that use burning tobacco, such as cigarettes, pipes and cigars, while vaping meant inhaling vapour from electronic cigarettes and other devices, including vaporizers.
Asked if they thought vaping was generally better for people’s health than smoking, 43% of respondents said yes. Just 5% held the view that vaping was worse for your health than smoking, while 31% believed that vaping has the same impact on people’s health as smoking. A total of 21% of respondents did not know whether vaping was better or worse than smoking.
Stubbing Out Smoking
As tobacco continues to take a heavy toll on the UK population, claiming more than 100,000 lives in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland every year, health authorities are doing everything they can to urge people to quit. This year, for the first time, the NHS advised people to take up vaping as an effective way to stop smoking, during its annual Stoptober campaign last October.
“E-cigarettes are particularly effective when combined with support from local stop-smoking services – people who choose this route have some of the highest quitting success rates,” the health service said in its Stoptober advice.
The Royal College of Physicians has also added its stance on the vaping debate, publishing a report in 2016 on vaping and any associated harmful impacts, as the august body also sought ways to try and reverse the levels of smoking, which has become a leading cause of preventable death in the UK.
The physicians said e-cigarettes should be widely promoted as a substitute for smoking, and “concluded that e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health. Smokers can therefore be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking”.
Cancer Research UK carried out a long-term study into vaping, and last year published results that said electronic cigarettes were safer than smoking. The British Psychological Society – noting that, based on research, if current smoking trends continue, a billion people around the world will have died from smoking-related diseases by the end of the 21st century – said usual quitting methods were failing and more smokers were turning to vaping to kick the habit.
The YouGov survey into attitudes on vaping found that slightly more men than women (46% compared to 41%) agreed that e-cigarettes were better for your health than smoking. In terms of social grading, 44% were ABC1, with higher levels of education, disposable income and spending power, and 42% were C2DE, which generally specifies people with lower-paying jobs.
Roughly half of those who had been active on the various social media channels in the past month said vaping was better for your health than smoking (46% on Facebook, 49% on Twitter and 52% having used LinkedIn), suggesting they may be more informed about health and vaping matters as they follow their news feeds. This compares to under 30% who believed vaping has the same impact as smoking (29% on Facebook, 25% on Twitter and 26% on LinkedIn) and 3-6% who think vaping is worse.
Smoking’s bright and burning days may be coming to an end, however. In a New Year’s resolution published in full-page adverts in the UK in early January, tobacco giant Philip Morris announced it was getting out of the cigarette business and focusing on vaping instead.
The UK is to have its first vaping awareness month in April. Organised by the UK Vaping Industry Association, ‘VApril’ will give smokers an “opportunity to take the vape challenge by trying a vape product instead of smoking during April and having the health impact of doing so monitored during the campaign period”, the vaping representative body said.