The new report by Cancer Research UK found many people still underestimate the value of vaping, and it’s doing harm
Misinformation is exceptionally rampant in the internet age. This is as true for vaping as anything else, with the industry constantly under attack from anecdotal and fear-based evidence, while reams of peer-reviewed research go by the wayside. Sadly, it’s become more of a political issue than a public health one, and as such is fueled by misleading rhetoric. A new report seems to back up these conclusions, as it found that many in even the vaping friendly UK are still under the impression vaping is very dangerous.
Ultimately, public perception has a massive impact on any industry. The more people who understand the value something offers, the harder it is for that utility to be taken away from those who truly need it. But the latest public perception numbers paint a scary picture, as the rate of people who understand the value has actually been declining over recent years. If this trend doesn’t change, it could snowball into a problem that threatens the very future of the industry.
The New Study
The latest report was published by researchers from King’s College in London. Funded by Cancer Research UK, the team wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the public’s perception of vaping, as well as how this is affecting public health overall. Dr. Leonie Brose was the lead researcher, and he was especially concerned with how almost nine out of ten people don’t realize that nicotine is only an incredibly small portion of what makes smoking dangerous. In fact, their research indicated many people believe nicotine is the most dangerous thing about smoking. With this being the case, it’s understandable how so many people could believe vaping is dangerous.
Their report concluded that only around 57% of adults now understand that vaping is less harmful than vaping. But this doesn’t account for those who understand how much safer vaping is than smoking. So essentially over 40% of people think vaping and smoking are basically the same. Making things even more dire is that back in 2012, nearly 70% of adults (66.6%) said that vaping was less harmful, while now only 57.3% do. Things shouldn’t be moving in this direction given how much we now know about the harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits of vaping.
The Growing Case For Vaping
It should have vapers everywhere worried that despite the growing pile of evidence supporting vaping, things are moving in the wrong direction in a vaping friendly nation like the UK. We’ve known since back in 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, but this figure has been found over and over again, giving credence to the magnitude of harm reduction vaping offers. In fact, as recently as last month a report found that e-liquid vapor contains around 93% fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke. But going even further, we have evidence indicating the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is roughly 57,000 times lower than a smoker with a similar background.
But the value of vaping goes further than just the extreme harm reduction. We also know thanks to reports that vaping is the most successful smoking cessation tool on the market. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville found that e-cigarettes even beat out popular new prescription quit aids like Chantix. Finally, parents can rest easy as we have plenty of evidence debunking the teenage vaping “epidemic.” A report of over 60,000 students found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up vapes on a regular basis.
New studies like this are always helpful at clarifying something. That being said, what this particular study has could feasibly become a massive problem for the vaping industry. Public perception is at the heart of the issue. The fewer people who realize vaping has a lot to offer, the fewer people who are willing to support vaping as a legitimate smoking cessation tool. That makes it much easier for the government to harshly tax and regulate the products as a quick fix to larger, complex problems. Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the world, so properly supporting all the best tools we have should be right at the top of our priority list.
Do you think public perception is a big problem for the vaping industry? Why do you think the rate of people who understand vaping is much safer is declining in the UK? How can we best spread positive information to the smokers in our lives? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.