The latest numbers show that public perception of vaping is at an all-time high
A survey in the UK, published late last year, found that almost half of the surveyed adults now believe vaping is safer for your health than smoking. This is a fantastic leap forward for the public image of vaping. As I’m sure returning readers will know, one of the most significant hurdles for vaping becoming a truly effective tool for improving public health has always been public perception; more specifically the mislead belief that vaping is as, if not more, dangerous than smoking combustible cigarettes.
There has been an outpouring the last few years of peer-reviewed scientific studies and surveys that clearly indicate e-cigarettes are an amazingly safer alternative to smoking. The non-vaping public’s opinion, however, has taken time to come around to these benefits. A negative or wary view of tobacco is prevalent even in vape supporting countries. A similar poll taken by Action on Smoking and Health in 2016 found only 13% of the respondents thought vaping was safer than smoking. This indicates a massive leap in favorable public opinion in just 2 years.
The New Poll
The more recent survey was conducted by an international market-based research firm called YouGov. They got responses from over 2000 adults in the UK and asked them about their opinions on vaping and whether they believe e-cigarettes are “generally better for people’s health than smoking.” 43% of those surveyed said yes, they think smoking is safer. About 31% stated they felt vaping and smoking posed similar risks, and only 5% said they believed it to be more dangerous, the remainder refrained from answering.
Within these overall results, there are telling demographic breakdowns. Men were slightly more likely to believe in the safety of vaping at 46% compared with 41% for women. The likeliness of having a favorable view on the safety of vaping was reasonably consistent across economic statuses. 44% of people with a higher income as well as 42% of lower earners believe vaping is safer than cigarettes. Surprisingly the differences were more drastic in people who used social media, versus those who do not. Among regular Facebook and Twitter users, 46% see cigarettes as more dangerous, with only 29% non-social media users agreeing. While these numbers may seem low, it is important to keep in mind the predominantly negative public opinion that vaping has held this far. These statistics in that context represent a drastic improvement.
Public Reputation For Vaping
In the past ten or so years the vaping industry has grown exponentially, but for the most part, people are unaware of what vaping is. This causes them to be unsure and unaware of what risks are posed. In the smoking, vaping, and scientific communities, the consensus for the past few years has overwhelmingly been that vaping is much safer than smoking. However, the majority of the non-vaping public still view vaping as being on par with the dangers of smoking. The surveys we’ve discussed were both conducted in the UK, where government health agencies have published works, and the government openly promotes vaping as an excellent cessation tool. Even in these circumstances though, the people who view vaping as potentially dangerous are the majority.
In the earlier survey by Action on Smoking and Health, they concluded only 13% of the public viewed vaping as a safer option. What’s worse is double that percentage believed vaping to be just as, if not more, dangerous than smoking. Directly compared to the 2018 survey the number of people who think vaping is healthier than smoking has skyrocketed from 13% to 43%. While the work of educating people to be more accepting of vaping as a healthy and practical tool is far from done, these numbers show that we are moving in the right direction.
For vaping to reach its full potential as a successful cessation tool the general public needs to accept it as a safer alternative to smoking. It may seem unnecessary to sway the opinion of people who will not be partaking of the products, but until the population at large understands the lowered risks and other benefits that vaping offers, laws will not be changed. The result is vaping and smoking will be treated the same legally and socially. By supporting vaping in their annual smoking cessation campaign “Stoptober,” the UK made tremendous progress for the vaping community.
Vaping and smoking are similar in many systematic ways, which makes it easy for people who don’t smoke or vape to categorize them together. They are both inhaled, produce clouds or smoke, they both usually contain nicotine. Until the public at large is more well educated on the positives of vaping, and it’s vast differences with smoking, the law will never recognize them as two separate entities.
Why do you think understanding in the UK suddenly starting moving in the right direction? Do you agree that we must gain the support of non-smokers? Is it essential that more people understand precisely how much safer vaping is than smoking? 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.