Australian public grossly misinformed about vaping
Posted on June 7, 2020
THE PUBLIC remains badly misinformed about vaping according to the recently published NSW Smoking and Health Survey 2019. The level of misinformation is increasing each year.
The survey of 3,058 adults in NSW was conducted by the Cancer Institute NSW in 2019 and was published recently.
Only 44% believed "e-cigarettes are healthier than smoking tobacco cigarettes"
FACT. It is beyond reasonable doubt that vaping is far less harmful than smoking. Almost all the harm from smoking is caused by the tar, carbon monoxide and thousands of other toxins from burning tobacco leaf. Most of these toxins are absent from vapour and those that are present are mostly less than 1% of the concentrations in smoke.
According to the UK Royal College of Physicians
"the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco"
Public misperceptions about the safety of vaping are getting worse over time. In 2015, a majority of adults (56%) believed vaping was healthier than smoking.
This negative outcome may have been partly influenced by the EVALI outbreak in the US which began around the same time. This serious lung injury was blamed on vaping nicotine initially, but was soon proven to be due to illicit THC oils contaminated with Vitamin E Acetate.
59% of people think “It is unsafe to use vapes or e-cigarettes around others”
FACT. Unlike secondhand smoke, the risk to bystanders from ‘passive vaping’ appears to be minimal. According to Public Health England’s review in 2018
"to date there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders"
The report of the Royal College of Physicians states ‘There is, so far, no direct evidence that such passive exposure is likely to cause significant harm’.
This is because only a small percentage of the vapour is exhaled (15% or less), the chemicals in exhaled vapour are at very low levels and the vapour evaporates rapidly, much faster than smoke.
Only 40% think “vapes or e-cigarettes help smokers to quit”
FACT. There is now convincing scientific evidence that vaping can help people quit smoking. A large randomised trial last year found that vaping was nearly twice as effective as nicotine patches and gums in helping smokers to quit.
Large population studies eg here and here have found that vaping is associated with greater quitting success and falling smoking rates. The decline in smoking rates in the UK and US has accelerated since vaping became available and vaping is a significant contributor to this.
Vaping is now the most effective quitting aid and is most popular quitting method in the US, UK and most countries where it is available.
Why does it matter?
Misinformation about vaping discourages smokers from switching from deadly tobacco cigarettes to vaping, a much safer alternative. This will cost lives because
vaping “has the potential to lead to one of the greatest public health breakthroughs in human history”
Furthermore, Government policy is often guided by the views of the majority. The survey found that 79% of people surveyed supported banning vaping in smokefree area because they incorrectly believed it was harmful. It is likely the government will exploit this misinformation to restrict vaping even further as it suits their anti-vaping agenda.
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org