A growing proportion of U.S. adults do not believe that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking, according to an analysis of the U.S. Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study data from 2013 to 2015 presented at the fifth Global Forum on Nicotine conference.
The analysis of the latest PATH data (a national longitudinal study of tobacco use among youth and adults in the USA) suggests that the proportion of adult current smokers who believed e-cigarettes were just as, or more, harmful than smoking increased substantially from 43% in 2013 to 57% in 2015.
‘Smoking cigarettes is not seen as more harmful than vaping or smoking e-cigarettes by many U.S. adults and this ignorance can cause lung cancer, throat cancer and heart disease.’
"It's concerning that despite a growing body of scientific evidence that vaping is less harmful than smoking, smokers who may benefit from switching to e-cigarettes are not getting the message," said Dr Grant O'Connell, Corporate Affairs Manager at Fontem Ventures, who led the analysis.
In the wider adult population (including non-smokers) the perception was even more skewed with the analysis showing the proportion of the adult population believing that e-cigarettes were as harmful, or more harmful, than smoking increasing from 54% in 2013 to 65% in 2015.
A recent global survey from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, found that among U.S. adult smokers in 2017, 45% believed e-cigarettes were as harmful as or more harmful than conventional cigarettes. Moreover, U.S. consumers believed that using nicotine every day was more dangerous than drinking every day, and that nicotine itself, rather than smoking, was a cause of lung cancer, throat cancer, and heart disease.
"These misperceptions need to be urgently addressed and policy makers should aim to assess why the relative harm of e-cigarettes compared with smoking is misunderstood. In particular, they should focus on how scientific studies are reported to the public," said Dr O'Connell.